Mickelson, Woods Duel For the Day

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, April 13, 2009

AUGUSTA, Ga., April 12 -- When Sunday morning began, the galleries at Augusta National could have laid out the following plan for Masters viewing: Watch Tiger and Phil for a few holes, then fall back to the leaders to see who might actually win the tournament.

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, however, then proceeded to take over most of the afternoon. The PGA Tour's two greatest stars, owners of six Masters titles between them, began the final round seven shots behind co-leaders Kenny Perry and Angel Cabrera. The popular thinking: They were out of it.

But after Mickelson shot a record-tying 30 on the front nine, and Woods made back-to-back birdies at 15 and 16, the galleries couldn't let them go. Both were at 10 under par. Perry, at that moment, held the lead at 11 under.

"I just felt like if I could shoot under par on the back nine that I would have a very good chance to win the tournament," Mickelson said.

Each man frittered his chance away. Mickelson's first gaffe came at the par-3 12th, perhaps the most infuriating 155-yard hole in golf. He hit his tee shot too far right, watched it trickle back into Rae's Creek, and made double bogey. He responded with a birdie at the par-5 13th, and had a five-foot putt for eagle at 15.

"I was pretty tentative," he said, because he had watched Woods's previous putt turn right when he thought it would go left. He settled for birdie, closed with a bogey at the 18th, and shot 67 to finish 9 under.

Woods began the day with a drive 100 yards left -- "one of the worst tee shots I've ever hit," he said -- and didn't match Mickelson's early fireworks. But he made a long eagle putt at the eighth, and through 16 holes had no bogeys. Yet he was unhappy with his swing.

"I fought my swing all day," he said.

Never more so than on the 17th, when he pulled his drive left, a swing that led to his first bogey. And when he needed a birdie on 18, he pulled another drive into the pine straw. The bogey-bogey finish left him with a 68 when he thought 65 might have been a number that intimidated the players behind him.

"It was just terrible," Woods said. "I don't know what was going on. It was frustrating."

Campbell Falls Short

Chad Campbell played in the group ahead of Perry and Cabrera, the eventual champ, and his par on the 18th gave him a 69 that got him into the playoff, the first three-way playoff since 1987, when Larry Mize beat Greg Norman and Seve Ballesteros. But Campbell will remember this for the three-foot par putt he missed on the first playoff hole.

"I kind of blew it myself," he said. "I hit bad shots." . . .

John Merrick, a 27-year-old Californian in his first Masters, made four straight birdies on the back nine to post a 66 and finish in a tie for sixth.

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