Phil Mickelson’s loose play slams the door on an Augusta repeat

Shane Bacon

After last weekend in Houston, when Phil Mickelson played as good a golf on the weekend as we've seen all season, it seemed almost too easy to pick him to win his fourth Masters.

He was coming to Augusta National red hot, and looked to be rounding into shape just at the right time to repeat at a place he won at in 2010. But it was never meant to be. Thursday, Phil leaned heavily on a short game that has saved him many times throughout his career as it seemed he couldn't find a fairway with any club in the bag. He got around in 2-under 70, but the fact that he rushed to the range as the sun was setting was a perfect indication of how his swing must have felt.

[Related: Complete Masters leaderboard]

The same magic couldn't be found on Friday, and on Saturday, a day dubbed Moving Day, Phil was far from sneaking up the leaderboard. He ended with a 1-under 71 when others went south of 70, and unless a stomach bug breaks out among all the leaders, Phil will only be at the green jacket ceremony to hand someone a jacket, not try another one on.

It seems about right for Phil this week. When we don't expect much, he delivers, and when he's the talk of the game, he normally doesn't. His win last week was a surprise to most, given the state of his game, and as he came into Augusta the favorite, the driver and putter seemed to be stuck back in Houston.

No worries for Phil. As he has always seemed to say, there is always tomorrow, just not for the 2011 Masters. A fourth jacket run will have to wait until next season.

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