AUGUSTA, Ga. - Phil Mickelson has been known to fade under the pressure of being in or close to the lead in the final round of major championships. It happened in last year's Masters and U.S. Open.
After shooting a 4-under-par 68 yesterday in the third round of the 66th Masters, Mickelson finds himself in the position of playing the way he wants - aggressively - in pursuit of his first major title.
"Now I don't have a choice, not like it would matter," said Mickelson, who will start at 7-under 209, four shots behind co-leaders Tiger Woods and Retief Goosen. "I need to go out and play an attacking style and try to make some noise and give them something to shoot at."
Except for the back nine on Friday, Mickelson has made fewer mistakes than usual in a major in which he has contended. He had no bogeys yesterday, after making only two in the opening round. He had four in the second round.
"I've driven the ball very well this week," Mickelson said. "I've been going after it and hitting the ball very hard and keeping it in play. I feel like I've not had very many misses."
Mickelson said his position going into today's final round might be even better than it was here a year ago, when he trailed Woods by a stroke going into Sunday. He shot 70 and lost by three.
"I think it's very difficult for me to play my best when I'm worrying about what other guys are doing," said Mickelson, who also finished second by a shot to David Toms in last year's PGA Championship.
Asked if he has had any regrets about the way he has played here this year, Mickelson said, "There are no regrets yet. A low round tomorrow, no regrets."
One statistic is going against Mickelson. His score last year was his lowest in eight Sundays in the Masters, and his scoring average for the final round has been 72.25.
When reminded that he has never broken 70 in a final round, Mickelson said, half-jokingly, "Well, you bringing it up doesn't help."
Duval misses cut
There will be no final-round disappointment for David Duval at this year's Masters. No third-round disasters, either. Duval, who had a chance to win the tournament three of the past four years, failed to make the cut when the second round was resumed yesterday morning.
Duval missed the cut, which was made at 3-over 147, by one shot. His bogey on the par-4 17th proved to be the crucial blow.
"I was a few shots away, and I feel I'm close to playing well again," Duval said after shooting his second straight 2-over 74.
Brad Faxon's eagle 2 on the par-4 11th was a bit historic. It marked only the second eagle there in tournament history, the first by Jerry Barber in 1962.
It was interesting, since Faxon made an 8 on the hole there last year that cost him a few dollars when he finished eight shots behind Woods after a 1-under 71.
This time, it helped him go from 2 over to even. Faxon, who started on the 10th tee yesterday, was 2 under through 12 holes before finishing at 1-under 215 after a 3-under 69.
"That was nice. What a great start," said Faxon, who made a 20-footer to save par on the 10th hole.
Today's final round
10:30: David Toms.
10:40: Fred Couples, Tom Watson.
10:50: Lee Westwood, Steve Lowery.
11: Craig Stadler, Scott Verplank.
11:10: Rocco Mediate, Shigeki Maruyama.
11:20: Greg Norman, Bob Estes.
11:30: Jesper Parnevik, Robert Allenby.
11:40: Charles Howell III, Justin Leonard.
11:50: Kirk Triplett, Bernhard Langer.
Noon: Paul McGinley, John Daly.
12:10: Mark Brooks, Jerry Kelly.
12:20: Darren Clarke, Tom Pernice.
12:30: Colin Montgomerie, Billy Mayfair.
12:40: Nick Price, Davis Love III.
12:50: Stewart Cink, Jeff Sluman.
1: Nick Faldo, Miguel Jimenez.
1:10: Adam Scott, Brad Faxon.
1:20: Chris DiMarco, Mike Weir.
1:30: Padraig Harrington, Angel Cabrera.
1:40: Jose Maria Olazabal, Thomas Bjorn.
1:50: Sergio Garcia, Ernie Els.
2: Vijay Singh, Phil Mickelson.
2:10: Tiger Woods, Retief Goosen.