Masters Leaderboard 2012: Phil Mickelson in Perfect Position to Win at Augusta

Scott SemmlerAnalyst IIApril 8, 2012

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 07:  Phil Mickelson of the United States checks his yardage book as he stands the 18th green during the third round of the 2012 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2012 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

It should never surprise us these days that Phil Mickelson is capable of making a moving-day surge up the leaderboard to put himself in position to win on Sunday at The Masters.

He did it in 2010 in dramatic fashion from the pine trees on the 13th hole, but this Sunday, he may be doing it from the putting surface. Heading into the final round at Augusta National, Mickelson has the fewest amount of putts in the field this week.

What we know about Augusta National is that one must putt well in order to win this championship. Mickelson fits that mold right now.

Going into the back nine on Saturday, he was going to need a ton of help in order to contend on Sunday. After his birdie on the 18th hole, he now may be the favorite to win it all, which is so fitting, since both Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods played themselves out of contention on Day 3 at Augusta National.

What may be the biggest reason for why Mickelson is in perfect position on Sunday is how this week has gone for him, as a player just sticking around the tournament to a player making moves and suddenly in the thick of the race for the championship on Sunday.

It is much like The Masters in 2010, or even earlier this year at Pebble Beach, where he rode some momentum on his way to running away with the tournament title in a Sunday pairing with Woods.

Something clicks in Mickelson at Augusta, though. Suddenly, he becomes clutch and is able to make putt after putt with momentum behind him. Once he does that, the fans start getting behind him, bounces start going his way and his talent will take care of the rest.

That is scary.

Who knows what to expect on Sunday, but there may not be a person with a logical bone in their body not picking Mickelson to take The Masters title when all is said and done.

He walked off the 18th green on Saturday as a player with all the momentum in the world and it would not be ridiculous to see him do the same on Sunday.

A key component of Sunday at Augusta will be succeeding on the 18th hole. Through three rounds for Mickelson this week, he is now three-under, making birdies in each and every round so far.

His success this week has come on the back nine and that is a scary thought for any player who may hold the lead Sunday afternoon at Augusta.