Mickelson off to a shaky start
Phil Mickelson had a day he’d rather forget Thursday at the Masters.
Mickelson, a three-time champion, had a triple-bogey 7 on the par-4 seventh hole and a double-bogey 7 on the par-5 15th on his way to a 4-over par 76. That was good enough for a tie for 67th with seven others.
“I’ve got a lot of work to do (Friday) just to make the cut,” said Mickelson. “I’ve got some issues.”
He said he actually didn’t play that badly, but he hasn’t played a lot in recent weeks because of a sprained back and that rustiness hasn’t totally worn off.
“That’s probably a sign right there of making these kinds of mistakes,” said Mickelson. “When I’m competitively sharp, those mistakes you just don’t make. You don’t throw those shots away out there.”
Notes• Two players who are part of a three-way tie for second – Bubba Watson and Louis Oosthuizen – have a shared part of Masters history.
In 2012, Watson won the Masters by beating Oosthuizen on the second playoff hole.
Since then, Oosthuizen, a South African who won the 2010 British Open, has struggled with a back injury.
“Some days it’s good, some days it’s not,” said Oosthuizen, whose 3-under 69 is tied with Watson and Adam Scott. “I’m managing it pretty good, knowing what I should and shouldn’t do.”
One thing he said he needs to avoid is picking up his toddler daughter Sophia when she runs to him.
“That’s tough not to do,” said Oosthuizen. “But, yeah, I just need to manage it some.”• Charlotte resident Webb Simpson got off to a great start, making birdies on the first three holes. That was as good as it got for Simpson, who gave two of those shots back quickly with a double-bogey on No. 5. Another bogey on No. 11 sent him on his way to a 2-over 74.
• Kevin Stadler was an early leader in the clubhouse, finishing with a 2-under 70, eventually good enough to be included in a six-way tie for fifth. His dad, Craig, is also playing, the first time a father and son have played in the Masters together. Craig, the 1982 champion, had a 10-over 82.
• Jonas Blixt, whose 70 has him in a tie for fifth with five others, might have become a pro hockey player in his native Sweden.
“I was probably better at hockey when I was younger than golf,” said Blixt, who briefly led on the front nine Thursday. “And then I played golf totally. You never know what’s going to happen.”
Why the change to golf?
“I grew up,” Blixt said.• Looks like the Par-3 Contest Curse will hold up. Ryan Moore, who won the event Wednesday, shot a 5-over 77 Thursday. He was confident after the contest (the winner of which has never won the Masters), saying he didn’t believe in the curse and that he might shoot 8-under Thursday.
• The ever-popular and ever-young Fred Couples, 54, flirted with the lead for a while and finished with a 71.
“Can a 50-year-old win here?” Couples said. “I think so. I’m one of them.”
Couples said 50-somethings Bernhard Langer and Sandy Lyle are also capable of winning.
Mostly sunny Friday with a high of 79. No chance of rain; humidity expected to be about 50 percent.
“We have all competed hard against each other. Even a tee shot like this, the question was asked, who hit it farther.” – Jack Nicklaus, after hitting his ceremonial opening tee shot with fellow legends Arnold Palmer and Gary Player.
“Par. I made par. Give me some credit, man.” – Brandt Snedeker when asked about what a reporter thought was a bogey when Snedeker took a penalty on the 13th hole.
“It was nothing out of the ordinary.” – Kevin Stadler on seeing his father Craig’s name on the scoreboard.