Saturday 18 August 2018

Mixed fortunes for Mickelson while Fitzpatrick makes his move

American left-hander responds well to air-shot in up-and-down 74.

Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson

By Phil Casey, Press Association Sport Golf Correspondent, Augusta

Phil Mickelson produced a typical mixture of the sublime and the ridiculous as England’s Matt Fitzpatrick demonstrated what was possible on day three at the Masters.

Mickelson suffered the embarrassment of an air-shot on the opening hole at Augusta National, but also produced arguably the shot of the week to eagle the eighth in a rollercoaster 74.

Fitzpatrick had also made the cut with nothing to spare and was one over after six holes, but birdied the seventh, eighth, 12th and 14th and eagled the 15th for a 67 – matching his score in the final round in 2016 – to get back to level par overall.

The 23-year-old from Sheffield finished tied for seventh that year and would have been hoping the forecast bad weather arrived to make life difficult for the leaders.

Early starters had to cope with intermittent periods of rain and Mickelson opted to wear two black gloves in an attempt to cope, but pulled his tee shot on the first into the trees and caught a branch on his downswing in attempting a trademark recovery shot.

That caused the left-hander to miss the ball completely and after punching his third shot on to the fairway, he compounded the error by missing the green with his approach on his way to a triple-bogey seven.

Mickelson had been just two shots off the lead before making a triple bogey on the ninth in a second round of 79, equalling his worst ever score in the Masters.

A bogey on the second dropped Mickelson to last place on nine over par, but the 47-year-old lived up to his nickname of ‘Phil the Thrill’ with a spectacular eagle on the eighth.

Facing an uphill second shot of 270 yards, Mickelson opted to hit a driver off the deck and produced a superb approach which finished just eight feet from the hole.

Mickelson also birdied the ninth and bounced back from a bogey on the 13th with a birdie on the next, but bogeyed the last after another wild tee shot into the trees.

Tiger Woods was also among the early starters and bogeyed the first two holes after visiting a total of three bunkers before registering his first birdie of the day on the par-three sixth.

Woods also birdied the eighth and avoided a third straight trip to the water on the par-three 12th, raising his arms in mock celebration and making the baseball sign for ‘safe’ after finding the green.

The odd number of players making the cut meant Paul Casey played alongside marker and Augusta National member Jeff Knox, who famously outscored Rory McIlroy in the same situation in 2014.

And although a birdie on the 11th showed what Knox is capable of, Casey avoided McIlroy’s fate thanks to a 69 completed in style with a tap-in birdie on the 18th.

The final group were not due out until 1430 local time (1930BST), with American Ryder Cup star Patrick Reed holding a two-shot lead over Australia’s Marc Leishman.

Press Association

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