Phil Mickelson finished the 100th official round of the Masters on Friday. He is 48 years old. He is three strokes behind the leaders after two rounds.
Mickelson made a delicate dance with these numbers after shooting 73 to 1 Friday. He tried not to look too far in front of him, recognized his death at golf and said he was convinced he could win the tournament again.
How would you feel about winning at Augusta for the fourth time?
"It would be pretty cool, but it's a lot faster than me," said Mickelson.
Does Mickelson believe he has an advantage because he has more experience at Augusta than any other challenger?
"Maybe," he says. "But you can also say that time is running out."
What would it mean for Mickelson when he became the oldest winner of a major?
"I did not think about it, but I think I have another major in me," he said. "At least one, maybe two, and I'd like to have one here."
And here is saying it. Nobody older than Mickelson has won a major tournament, but he's thinking of adding two more to make it seven. He can joke that 100 rounds played simply mean he's "getting older", but that's not the moment for Lefty to be modest while hiding in the Masters.
Mickelson won the Masters for the last time in 2010. Since then, he has had as many missed cuts (two) as the top-10. Last year, he followed his start of 70 with a 79 and a 74. This time he supported his first round 67 with a 73.
Mickelson is well placed for the weekend. He was not so close to the head after two rounds here, since he also had three shots in 2012. Surely, Mickelson will accept it, right?
"I think I was expecting to be a little better, to be honest," said Mickelson, who has regained that confidence. "But there's nothing better than having a chance to get into the Masters weekend." And that's what I want to focus on and I know I play pretty well. "
Good enough to have a chance, of course. Mickelson will have to increase his level of play to win. The ranking above him is filled with young major champions, great experienced champions and, oh yes, the biggest champion of the sector, Tiger Woods.
Hitting half of his races in the fairway, as Mickelson did on Friday, will not do it. That's the main reason he was above normal on a day when 45 golfers scored at least or better. Hard to go for the pin of the pine straw.
Stray attempts have been the only major problem for Mickelson over two days, but this is a major problem.
"I did not fly the ball very well today and that will be my key," said Mickelson. "If I hit straight enough, I can attack a lot of holes."
Mickelson said he loves fighting his rider because "in general, it's stronger than I play, but the more it rolls, the better." It did not work out on Friday. In the hope, if the driver is still loose this weekend, he backs away.
The feeling that he can not is rooted in Mickelson's story. In his youth, he was refueling when the situation required to brake. Big orders in full swing when he needed to find the fairway. Direct attacks on difficult bedbugs when a bullet anywhere on the green would do the trick.
Mickelson has won many tournaments playing this style. He also spoiled many opportunities while not winning his first 46 starts in major tournaments. Admittedly, it was amusing to see how Mickelson would find a way to lose him this time, but the relief was obtained when he ended his drought at the majors with the Masters victory in 2004.
Mickelson's lightheartedness resurfaced at Winged Foot during the opening of US 2006. He ruined everything on the last hole and declared himself "such a fool". A win would have meant three consecutive wins in the majors.
Mickelson then won two other major tournaments. He's older and wiser now, but not on the hill, he says. In addition, Mickelson says that Augusta is a "spiritual place" that rejuvenates him.
"I'm so excited to be here and to play. It reminds me of memories of my childhood and it makes me feel young, "he said.
It's good that Mickelson feels young. It's not good if he plays this way this weekend. I doubt that it happens. Mickelson knows he does not have much more chances, so I can not see him breaking the ball by taking ridiculous risks.
Mickelson is again in the running for the Masters. He says that he has another major victory in him. He has the wisdom to believe it.
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