The dynamics of the season’s first major championship changed after Phil Mickelson’s impressive victory at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
With his third title in Phoenix, Mickelson showed a game that has been missing since he won almost a year ago at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, when he shot a final-round 64 while playing with Tiger Woods for a two-shot victory over Charlie Wi.
Mickelson’s 28-under-par total at TPC Scottsdale last week prompted Las Vegas oddsmakers to shave favorite Woods from a 9-2 favorite to 5-1 to win the Masters and move Mickelson from 15-1 to 12-1.
Woods, winless at Augusta National Golf Club since 2005, when he claimed his fourth green jacket, won his first start on Tour this season, the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego. Mickelson won the Masters in 2004, ’06 and ’10.
Mickelson has parlayed early season victories into strong showings at Augusta.
In 2004, Mickelson won the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic en route to his first green jacket. In 2006, he won at the BellSouth Classic in Atlanta one week before the short drive down Interstate 20 to Augusta the next week and his second Masters title.
Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy is the oddsmakers’ second pick for Augusta, at 13-2.
Englishmen Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and Justin Rose, plus Australian Adam Scott and Americans Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson, the defending champion, are listed at 25-1.