Demons Continue To Haunt Mickelson as Comeback Fails

Dave MillerContributor IApril 13, 2009

I watched the Masters yesterday, more out of habit than anything else. 

Let’s face it, the thought of Angel Cabrera slugging it out with the likes of Kenny Perry and Chad Campbell is not likely to send shivers down your leg.

So I was pleasantly surprised when I heard that both Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods were somehow in contention. If what I was hearing was accurate, this had the potential to be the stuff of legends.

Could Tiger overcome a tremendous deficit and win his fifth green jacket? Would Phil finally exorcise his Tiger demons and demand to be seen as one of golf’s all-time greats?

Mickelson opened with a blistering front nine that had Woods on his heels and the crowd sensing something special was about to happen. 

After matching pars on the 14th hole, the stage was set. Both Mickelson and Woods were within just a few shots of the lead, coming up to the par five 15th.

This was Ruth getting ready to call his shot. Ali versus Frazier. Jordan in the last seconds against Utah.

Two of the games biggest stars, in the biggest tournament, looking to take the lead from a bunch of guys seemingly content to shoot par and watch their leads slip away.

Woods put his second shot close, but Mickelson drilled his approach and was within a few feet of the pin. A sure eagle and a share of the lead was his for the taking, with Tiger close behind and only three holes to go.

It was as if the rest of the field did not exist.

At that moment, The Masters was a playoff between Woods and Mickelson.

No disrespect to the rest of the field, but they were little more than window dressing, a warm-up for the main event. The chorus to Pavarotti.

After watching Woods miss slightly right along the same line, Mickelson flinched on a five-footer, pushing his eagle, the lead, and the tournament, wide left.

He settled for birdie.

After a par on 16, Mickelson had one last chance to turn up the heat on the leaders with another five-footer for birdie on 17. But it was not to be. Woods also failed to close the gap.

The mighty Caseys had both struck out, limping off the course after bogeys on the 18th hole.

We know Tiger will be back. After all, what can you say about a guy who battles his way around a U.S. Open on a broken leg, somehow winning the tournament?

But Mickelson? 

Golf is a funny sport. You never know what effect a missed opportunity in a major can have on a player's psyche.