That was, until he arrived on the tee of the par-4 10th hole at Redstone, 1-under for the day and 4-under for the tournament. Mickelson was sneaking up the leaderboard, like the big names normally do, and with the conditions much like Augusta National will be in a week, it seemed he was figuring out his game.
Mickelson walked away the 10th hole with a triple-bogey 7, dropping two more shots on the way in and having to settle for a 4-over 76. From contender to pretender, faster than you can hit yourself with your own golf ball.
If there is one thing we've always known about Mickelson it is that he isn't scared of a challenge. He will go after shots that most wouldn't dare do, and for the most part, it has worked out for him. That hasn't been the case in 2010. In seven tournaments this year including this week, Mickelson has made a double-bogey or worse in four, stuff that professional golfers just can't live with. Bogeys you can make up, doubles and triples you can't, and Phil continues to shoot himself in the foot with the high numbers.
They say U.S. Opens test everything a golfer possesses, but with the changes at Augusta National, you'd have to say the same for the Masters. In the last two events, Phil has made a triple-bogey on a par-4 when he just couldn't afford it. The big numbers are what have Mickelson carding only one top-10 all season, and has him far from a favorite next week.
Until he can calm the blow ups, it's hard to imagine Phil winning any event, especially a major championship in Georgia.