Masters 2012: Underperforming Stars Who Will Wind Up in the Hunt

Ian Hanford@Ian_HanfordFeatured ColumnistApril 7, 2012

Phil Mickelson knows how to succeed at the Masters.
Phil Mickelson knows how to succeed at the Masters.Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott and Steve Stricker will rise toward the top of the Masters' leaderboard in Round 3.

Mickelson is already within striking distance. Scott and Stricker sit further down the board, but both are extremely talented golfers.

These three will find their games while others falter in Round 3. Let's take a look.

Phil Mickelson

Mickelson is currently 11th on the Masters' leaderboard. He is two-under par.

Mickelson's Round 2 performance screams optimism. "Lefty" used his considerable experience to find his game and knocked down six birdies on Friday.

Veterans have an advantage on Augusta's unforgiving course. Mickelson's experience on the course is important, but his experience in victory is more important. He is not someone you want to see in your rearview mirror at this juncture.

If Mickelson had repeated his Round 1 performance, he would be irrelevant. Instead, Mickelson's six-stroke improvement has him sitting pretty heading into the tournament's money rounds.

Adam Scott

Scott is one of the top golfers in the world, and will surge in Round 3 of the 2012 Masters Tournament.

Scott's raw talent has earned him the No. 13 ranking in the world.

He shot a 72 in Round 1, but improved in Round 2 by two strokes.

Scott drives the ball well off the tee, but does not have a ton of experience at Augusta. This hurts his chances against the likes of Mickelson, Fred Couples and Lee Westwood.

To win the Masters you must be able to negotiate the greens. Scott's putting game will not get him a green jacket, but he will be in the hunt heading into Sunday's Round 4 action.

Steve Stricker

Stricker has the necessary experience and talent to climb the leaderboard in Round 3.

He is currently three-over. Stricker shot a disastrous 77 in Round 2. Expect him to shoot closer to his Round 1 score in Round 3.

Stricker has had a solid year on the PGA Tour. The Masters is a different animal, but his success will allow him to battle down to the wire.

He knows the course, drives the ball well and handles his irons extremely well.

Stricker will grab early momentum on Saturday, enough momentum to carry him into the rat race on Sunday.