AUGUSTA, Ga. — The last time Phil Mickelson missed a cut at the Masters, he was 26, sputtering out of the 1997 tournament as Tiger Woods was lapping the field. But after stumbling to a 36-hole total of five over par, Mickelson missed this year's cut by a stroke, done in by two triple bogeys — at No. 7 on Thursday and No. 12 on Friday.
Coming into the week, Mickelson had never made a triple at the 12th and had twice as many birdies there (16) as double bogeys. But a weak tee shot Friday put him in the front bunker, and a three-shot beach party began.
"There was no sand where I was," Mickelson explained. "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."
They're out too
Mickelson wasn't the only big name headed home.
The last major champion, PGA winner Jason Dufner, missed the cut by six shots.
"Just made some silly errors here and there," said Els, whose 74 left him tied with Mickelson, one shot more than he could afford. "I'm actually driving it well, doing a lot of things well, but just getting in my own way here and there."
Of the six amateurs in the field, only England's Oliver Goss made the cut at three over.
Jordan Spieth already has proven to be a quick study.
A PGA Tour winner before he even had a card. The youngest American to play in the Presidents Cup. And in his first appearance at the Masters, the 20-year-old Texan looks as if he's been playing here most of his life.
Spieth joined the mix at the Masters on Friday with an eight-foot eagle putt on the par-five 15th, and a shot that settled within tap-in range for birdie on the 18th hole. That gave him a two-under 70 and left him only four shots behind going into the weekend.
Is anyone surprised by this? Spieth sure wasn't.
"No, I don't think so," he said. "I've been playing against these guys, and this caliber field, World Golf Championships and other major championships. So I felt like if I could get my game right and really handle myself mentally, then I could have an opportunity to be in contention. That's where I'm at now, and a lot of work to do."
Spieth played his first major last summer at the British Open — he qualified four days earlier by winning the John Deere Classic. He finished in the middle of the pack at Muirfield and missed the cut in the PGA.
The Masters was his favorite major as a kid, and one of his mentors is two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw.
"This was a big goal of mine this year, to get in contention at a major," Spieth said. "And the Masters being the one that I dreamt about since I was who knows how old, that's going to leave more emotion out there. Mr. Crenshaw says it best. The Masters brings out emotion in guys that aren't emotional.
"I'm already emotional and I got to keep it on the down low."
The Associated Press contributed to this reportCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun