Earlier this week, Phil Mickelson was asked who he thought might be the first left-handed player to win the Masters. Mickelson said he knew who he would pick, and it was obvious his choice was definitely not Mike Weir, even if they are friends.
He was wrong. It was Weir, and Mickelson had to settle for third place for a third straight year. As is usually the case after he comes close, Mickelson, the No. 4-ranked player in the world, insisted that he had a good week, even if he's now played in 43 majors and still hasn't won one.
"I think this was the best round I ever played here on Sunday, so I can't complain," he said. "I'm feeling very comfortable in the major championships now. I just know that if I just go out and play, I'm going to have a shot on Sunday, and it's fun to have a chance at winning. I played very well.
"I thought if I could get to 5 or 6 under, that might do it. Heading into today I thought 68 would do it. And two guys ran away with it. I can't control what they do, but I'm very pleased with a 68, so I'm not going to worry about whether or not it was enough. You can't look at it in terms of winning or losing. I felt I did what I wanted to do."
This was a big year for amateurs in the Masters, what with U.S. Amateur champion Ricky Barnes making a huge name for himself in the first two rounds by shooting 3-under 69 in the first 18 and beating playing partner Tiger Woods by six shots through the first 36 holes.
Barnes was one of three amateurs to make the cut on Saturday, and after three rounds he was tied with Hunter Mahan, the runner-up in the Amateur last year, at 4-over 218. Public Links champion Ryan Moore was at 218 going into the final-round chase for the silver cup that goes to the low amateur.
Barnes eventually prevailed when he finished 21st with a 75 today and a 3-over total of 291. Mahan was 28th and Moore tied for 45th.
Going Through Withdrawal
Chris DiMarco has finished 10th and 12th in his only two Masters appearances, and always said that playing at Augusta National had been a lifelong dream. Still, he felt differently about sticking around to complete his second round on Saturday morning. He didn't make it to the tee.
DiMarco was at 16 over for the tournament through 35 holes when darkness fell Friday, and he had no chance of making the cut. Rather than wake up at 5:30 a.m. Saturday to play one hole at 8:20 a.m., he withdrew and headed back to his home in Orlando to watch his 7-year-old son's T-ball game.
"I gotta play dumb," he told the Gainesville (Fla.) Sun. "I didn't know you didn't withdraw from the Masters. I swear when I decided I wasn't going to play, I thought other guys were going to do the same thing. Augusta is my favorite tournament. I meant no disrespect."
Par for the Course
The seven players finishing with sub-par totals marked the fewest amount since 1987, when six finished under par. . . .
Woods's tie for 15th was his lowest finish in Augusta since the 1998 Masters when he tied for 18th. . . .
Quote of the week from Woods's mom, Kultida: "He's going to drive me to an early grave." . . . .
A record 11 first-time players made the cut this week. . . .
Fred Couples has the longest active streak of consecutive cuts made, with 19 beginning in 1983. Gary Player has the all-time record, with 23 from 1959 to '82.