AUGUSTA, Ga. -- It didn't look as bad as the final tally would indicate, but the number on the scorecard presents a stark reality for Phil Mickelson -- he has work to do Friday to avoid missing the cut for just the second time in 22 Masters appearances.
Mickelson's 4-over-par 76 on Thursday at Augusta National included a three-putt triple-bogey 7 at the seventh hole and a ball in the water at the 15th that led to a double-bogey 7.
Going 5 over in two holes is tough to overcome, and Mickelson was left to ponder what went wrong. It was the third time in his last four rounds at Augusta National that he has shot 76 or worse. Last year he tied for 54th.
"There were possibilities for low scores, and I actually played well," he said. "I know it's hard to say that, but I actually played well and I just made a lot of little mental errors. I made a lot of little mistakes around the greens, but I didn't hit anything unsolid. I hit them solid, I just misjudged the shot."
Mickelson misjudged the green at the seventh, and it took him two more shots to get on and from there he 3-putted.
After battling to get back to 1 over with birdies at the 10th and 13th holes, he gave it back at the 15th, where a poor drive meant he had to lay up. From there, he hit a poor wedge shot that hit in front of the green and rolled back into the water, leading to another 7.
"I made a lot of mistakes like that around the greens and just threw away a ton of shots," he said.
Mickelson, a three-time Masters winner who is the reigning Open Championship winner as well, has had an uneven 2014. After a tie for second in Abu Dhabi at his first tournament, he has withdrawn from two events -- the Farmers Insurance Open and the Valero Texas Open -- with injuries.
A pulled muscle plagued Mickelson at the Texas event but he returned last week and finished 12th in Houston. Still, he rued a lack of competition.
"That's probably a sign right there of making those kind of mistakes," he said. "When I'm competitively sharp, those mistakes you just don't make. You don't throw away out here.
"Disappointing for sure. We've got a long ways to go and I've got a lot of work to do and I don't feel like my game is off, I really don't. I feel solid with my ballstriking, I feel great with the putter. I hit all those chips solid and flush, but I misjudged them. I was just off. I was really off today. It was very disappointing."
The only time Mickelson has missed the Masters cut was in 1997.