Mickelson finishes career 'Seconds Slam' at Masters

Jim Slater
AFP

Augusta (United States) (AFP) - Phil Mickelson settled for completing a career Second-Place Slam with his runner-up effort at the Masters, but the five-time major champion's confidence is high as he seeks the real Grand Slam.

The 44-year-old American left-hander, who had managed only one top-10 effort in his past 31 starts, fired a three-under par 69 in the final round at Augusta National, matching England's Justin Rose for second on 14-under 274, four strokes behind Masters winner Jordan Spieth.

"I feel like this is the way I've been playing but not scoring like this. This is the first week that I've got the score out of myself that I thought I should," Mickelson said.

"I plan on taking the next couple of weeks to work on my game and get it sharp and hopefully use this as a springboard for the rest of the year because I feel like my game has really come around. This week, I played some good golf and hopefully I'll continue the rest of the year."

It was Mickelson's 10th career runner-up finish in a major but his first at Augusta National, where he collected green jackets in 2004, 2006 and 2010. His other career major runner-up efforts include second at the 2001 and 2014 PGA Championships, the 2011 British Open and a record six US Opens, most recently in 2013 at Merion.

But Mickelson, whose other major wins include the 2005 PGA Championship and 2013 British Open, will make his second run at the career Grand Slam in June at the US Open in Chambers Bay -- a bid for which he is already preparing.

"I'll spend a little bit of time at Chambers Bay," Mickelson said. "But really, I think that when I played well and won at Muirfield in 2013, I really didn't spend an inordinate amount of time on the golf course. I just got my game sharp, and I think I'll probably take that approach more with Chambers Bay.

"I'll go and see the course. I'll spend some time there, but really I'll be trying to get my game sharp heading into that week.

"My tactic the last two weeks heading into here was try to make a lot of birdies because I knew that I had to come out here and make a lot of birdies, fire at pins, get good distance control, short game is sharp and make putts.

"But heading into the US Open, I'll have a different tactic. I'll try to play more of a controlled style game, getting the ball in play, getting short game sharp, that's always important, trying to play more of a strategic style."

Mickelson, ranked 22nd, is a major runner-up for the fourth time in five seasons and has finished in the top 10 in 10 of his past 24 major starts since the start of 2009.

"I don't have probably a great explanation other than I really focus on those events," Mickelson said of his performances. "I really work for them with the idea that these are the events that I'm trying to play well in now. I want to zero in on the four or five biggest events."

This effort following his runner-up showing to world number one Rory McIlroy at last year's PGA Championship at Valhalla marks the first time in his career Mickelson has had back-to-back second places.

Mickelson's total was his second-lowest 72-hole total at Augusta National, two strokes more than his win in 2010.

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