Mickelson familiar with 3rd-place finish

He lands in same spot for third straight year

The Masters


April 14, 2003|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

AUGUSTA, Ga. - Everyone on the PGA Tour calls Phil Mickelson "Lefty," but since he's now been usurped by Mike Weir as the first left-hander to win the Masters, here's a new one: "The Third." Or, simply, III.

Mickelson came close again at Augusta National yesterday. He was in contention until Len Mattiace broke it open on the back nine and Weir caught up before winning the 67th Masters on the first hole of sudden death.

And Mickelson?

He shot a more than respectable 4-under-par 68 for a four-round score of 5-under 283 to finish two shots back. It marked the third straight year that Mickelson has finished third here.

"That's better than finishing fourth, I guess, but there's really no consolation out there," said Mickelson, 32, who is still looking for the first major championship of an otherwise successful career.

Mickelson, who came into the round four strokes behind third-round leader Jeff Maggert, got to within three of the lead when he rolled in an 80-foot breaking putt on the par-5 second hole for birdie, but was never much of a factor after a bogey on the par-3 sixth.

"It wasn't playing easy," Mickelson said. "We saw a lot of high scores out there. We had some tough pins, quick greens. It just makes Len's round that much more impressive, and Mike Weir's play as well."

Mickelson wasn't the only big-name player to falter on the final round. Two-time defending champion Tiger Woods shot a 3-over-par 75 to finish tied for 15th. Former champion Vijay Singh got to 2-under for the day and 4-under for the tournament through 11 holes but bogeyed the next two holes and finished at 1-under, tied for sixth.

"It's disappointing," Woods said. "You can't feel that way, though. It's sports. That's why we play. We try to put ourselves in position to win and you're not going to win every time. You look at the greatest champions of all time and their winning percentage in all sports, it's not too good."

Asked what his problem was yesterday, Woods said, "I didn't have the feel for chipping today. It was very reminiscent of how it was on the first day. I was just trying to make contact."

Maggert, who came into the round with a two-shot lead over Weir, found problems on the same hole as Woods. After Woods had double-bogeyed the par-4 second hole to fall back to even-par for the tournament, Maggert drove into a fairway bunker. With his ball close to the lip, Maggert watched the ball ricochet off the lip and hit him.

"I asked the rules official, `Is it one-shot [penalty] or two?' " Maggert said.

It was a two-shot penalty and Maggert wound up making triple-bogey. But that wasn't the worst part of his round. On the famous par-3 12th hole, Maggert hit his first shot into the back bunker, bladed his sand shot across the green and into the water. Maggert took a drop, then muffed his next shot back into the water and wound up with an 8. He went from 4-under to 1-over.

"It was a very strange day," said Maggert, who eventually got back to 2-under for the tournament with a 75.

Maggert, whose career has dropped off significantly the past two years, was pleased with his fifth-place finish, his best ever at the Masters.

"I'm encouraged by my play," he said. "This shows me that I can play with the best players in the world in the Masters."

Don't lose that number

Reigning U.S. Amateur champion Ricky Barnes, who was in contention after shooting an opening-round 69, finished one stroke out of a return invitation. Barnes, who shot a 1-over par 73 yesterday, came in at 3-over 291.

Had he finished at 290, he would have tied for 15th place with six other players, including Woods and reigning PGA champion Rich Beem. The top 16 players (and ties) are invited back the following year.

But Barnes, a sophomore at Arizona, wound up as the low amateur.

"It means a lot," said Barnes, 20. "If you told me before starting I'd run away. I told my playing partner, `Our dream just ended'. This is quite a place."

Barnes, who beat Woods by seven strokes while playing with him in the first round, wound up three strokes better than amateur Hunter Mahan, whom Barnes beat in last year's U.S. Amateur final.

"It's back to school tomorrow," Barnes said. "I'll attend a few classes. I'll be back for the U.S. Open in June."

Final shots

The seven players under par were the fewest in the Masters since 1987, when there were six. ... Jonathan Byrd, who played at Clemson, had the best finish ever for a first-timer, a tie for eighth. ... Next year's Masters is scheduled for April 8-11.

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