Masters 2012: Phil Mickelson Struggles Early, Rally Falls Short In Tie For 3rd Place At Augusta

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 08: Phil Mickelson of the United States hits a tee shot on the ninth hole during the final round of the 2012 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 8, 2012 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Former Arizona State Sun Devil and three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson entered Sunday's final round at Augusta just a single shot off the lead. He found himself in that prime position on the strength of a sensational -6 66 on Saturday's third round that was fueled by a magnificent back nine. His fourth Masters championship was within his grasp.

Sadly for Lefty, his bid for a fourth green jacket was undone by an awful performance on the fourth hole.

Mickelson did not appear sharp on the first three holes of the day, but still managed to convert all into pars. His doom was spelled by a bad tee shot on the par-three fourth that landed 40 yards to the left of the pin, and the position required him to shoot righty on the next two strokes. A bunker shot soon followed and by the time the ball found the cup, he had a terrible six on his scorecard. That placed him four strokes back at the time.

Lefty managed to avoid any further bogies on the day, and posted birdies on 8, 13 and 15 to make things interesting. At a few points during the afternoon, he pulled to within two strokes of the lead, but ultimately his rally fell short, as he posted pars on the final three holes. He finished tied with Lee Westwood, Peter Hanson and Matt Kuchar at -8 for the tournament.

"I had a lot of chances on the back nine, putts that came so close to going. I just couldn't quite get it going," said Mickelson after his final round.

The green jacket came down to the pair that those golfers were chasing most of the afternoon, Louis Oosthuizen and Bubba Watson. Watson came on strong at the end, posting four straight birdies from the 13th to the 16th holes to force a playoff with Oosthuizen. The two each parred the first playoff hole on 18, and then moved to the 10th.

Each shanked their tee shots on that hole, with Watson landing deep in the trees. However, he made an amazing hook shot out of the trees to put him in prime position, and two putts later he was the new Masters champion.

This mark's Mickelson's eighth finish in the Masters top three during his fantastic career.

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