Mickelson, McIlroy Make Moves at the Masters: A Fan’s Take

Every Saturday at Augusta National is moving day. On this Saturday, April 7, players were moving up and down the leaderboard. While the leaderboard changed dramatically with several players nearing the lead or falling away, no two players typified this movement more than Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy.

After a quiet front nine that saw Mickelson par every hole, the three-time champion surged on the back nine. Mickelson began with a birdie on number 10. After a par at the difficult 11th hole he made birdie at 12. Then moving to his best hole on the course, Mickelson made eagle at the par-5 13th to tie the lead. Special attention must be paid to Mickelson's play at the par-5 15th hole. After an excellent drive, Mickelson played his second shot to just off the back of the green. Faced with a decision Phil played aggressively. The flop shot he played was unbelievable. I wonder how many professionals could keep a shot like that from going into the gallery or the water. But Mickelson played it perfectly and converted the short putt for birdie. When asked about the shot at 15 in a post-round interview Mickelson admitted that there was an element of risk in the shot. However, that is why he carries a 64 degree wedge. Mickelson then birdied the 18th for the third straight day for a back nine 30 and a round of 66. This was good enough to vault Mickelson into second place entering the final round.

Moving in the opposite direction in the third round was pretournament favorite Rory McIlroy. The young man from Northern Ireland suffered through a miserable round. In the first round McIlroy began with a double bogey and made an excellent recovery. On Saturday it was not to be. After an opening double bogey, McIlroy's struggles mounted as he played the front nine in an astounding 42. This effectively took him out of contention. While he managed to come home in 35, he shot 77 for the round and fell to a tie for 27th position.

While Mickelson certainly had a terrific round, the low round of the day was recorded by Peter Hanson. The Swede turned in a sparkling 65 to enter the final round leading the Masters by 1 stroke over Mickelson. The two will be paired in the last group for the final round. If they can continue their stellar play it should certainly make for a fascinating conclusion to the 2012 Masters.

Dwight is an avid golfer. While still relatively new to the game, he plays as often as the weather and his schedule will allow.

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