Mickelson scrambles into contention at Augusta

Mickelson scrambles into contention at Augusta

Published Apr. 8, 2011 6:52 a.m. ET

Phil Mickelson drove it behind towering Georgia pines. He knocked it under azalea bushes blazing with color. No one hit fewer fairways than the defending Masters champion.

Yet when he got to the 18th hole, there were nothing but pars and birdies on his card.

Though he was scraping through his round, it was good enough to keep Mickelson in contention for another green jacket.

''I missed it in spots where I could get up and down, in spots where I knew ... I had a good angle,'' Mickelson said. ''I scrambled well to stay in, but I also let four or five good birdie opportunities slide. I'm going to have to capitalize on those opportunities if I'm going to go low.''


Mickelson took his lone bogey at the final hole after knocking his second shot over the green, but he still goes into Friday's second round just five strokes behind rising star Rory McIlroy and long-hitting Spaniard Alvaro Quiros, who shared the lead at 7-under 65.

It was a deficit that didn't look all that daunting, especially after Mickelson hit only four out of 14 fairways on Thursday - the worst percentage in the 99-player field.

Not surprisingly, he headed straight from the 18th hole to the practice range, looking to work out the kinks in his swing before sundown.

Imagine the possibilities if he can actually keep it in the short grass.

''It's OK, just OK,'' Mickelson said of his 70. ''I didn't shoot myself out of it, but I didn't make up ground on the field the way I wanted to, so I've got to go do it.''