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Mickelson struggles, misses Masters cut

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AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) - Phil Mickelson will be watching the final two rounds of the Masters from home for the first time in 17 years.

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And it's no mystery why.

''It's tough to overcome those big numbers,'' Mickelson said Friday after a 1-over 73.

Mickelson made two triple bogeys at Augusta National two years ago and nearly won another green jacket. After making two of them in consecutive days this year he missed the cut for only the second time.

He was at 5-over 149. Mickelson could have fired up a private jet to head home after he signed his card, except that the Masters changed its cut policy this year. The top 50 and ties - up from the top 44 - made the cut.

''It's right on the bubble,'' he said before the cut was decided. ''I don't want to be looking for the leaderboard, but I'm always fighting to make the weekend, it seems like.''

Lefty came up short this time.

Mickelson was chipping from about 30 feet away on No. 7 in the opening round when it rolled off the green and led to a triple bogey. And then on Friday, watching him play the par-3 12th hole was like watching a tennis match.

His tee shot cleared Rae's Creek - typically the first big concern - and found the front bunker. His next shot sailed over the green and fell into the side of the back bunker. From there, he blasted through the green and back into the same bunker where his troubles began.

He got that out to about 18 feet and two-putted for a triple bogey.

Throw in that double bogey on the par-5 15th in the opening round when his wedge spun back off the green and into the water, and it's clear why Mickelson's bid to join Tiger Woods and Arnold Palmer with a fourth Masters title dissolved rather quickly.

''What happened at 12 was I hit in the front bunker, and there was no sand where I was at,'' Mickelson said. ''I caught the liner of the bunker and bladed it across the green and the same thing happened on the other side. It went back and forth, three bunkers, before I finally got it to stay on grass.''

Mickelson, who withdrew after two rounds at Torrey Pines because of a sore back, pulled out on the weekend of the Texas Open with a pulled muscle in his oblique. But he said injuries were not the problem this week.

What concerned Mickelson was not playing enough going into the Masters. He said he was worried that he might not be sharp, and he was right.

''That's what I've been nervous about is having a hole like 7 (Thursday), a hole like 12 today,'' Mickelson said. ''... Instead of one sliding, two or three are going away. That's the kind of stuff when you're playing tournament golf and you're mentally sharp you don't do.''

Mickelson last missed the cut at Augusta in 1997, the year Woods won by a record 12 shots. He said he'll likely watch the rest if tournament on television.

''It's an exciting tournament. I probably will,'' Mickelson said. ''Kind of be my punishment.''

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

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The Associated Press
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