Phil Mickelson came out armed with a new putter for the final round of The Masters at a blustery Augusta today – but the fast start he was hoping for did not come.
Joint third at halfway, the twice champion had fallen nine behind Trevor Immelman and into a tie for seventh with a 75 yesterday.
In the conditions, it was anybody’s guess what the winning score would be – but Mickelson knew he had to go low.
He almost chipped in at the first after missing the green, but then hooked into the trees at the downwind 575-yard second. A good third still gave him a 12-foot birdie chance, but he missed it and remained two under.
However, England’s Ian Poulter – who also fell into the pack with a third-round 75 that did not have a single birdie in it – opened with birdie putts from 20 and 15 feet.
They lifted him into joint sixth with Stewart Cink and on to the heels of Tiger Woods. But it needed something serious to go wrong with Immelman, second-placed Brandt Snedeker, plus left-hander Steve Flesch and Englishman Paul Casey for him to have a chance.
Just in case, though, Poulter was dressed in all white with a green shirt that would look good with a green jacket if one was presented to him at the end of the day.
Westwood, one under overnight, was another to birdie the second and so moved to two under alongside Open champion Padraig Harrington – who had to work really hard for an opening par.
Earlier, 50-year-olds Sandy Lyle and Ian Woosnam showed it was likely to be a day of thrills and spills.
Lyle played the last seven holes in two under but still signed for a 77 and 14-over aggregate after three double bogeys in a row from the ninth and a real mixture of bogeys and birdies before that.
Woosnam chipped in at the 14th – he did the same at the first hole in his second round – but that came when he was five over for the day and 11 over for the tournament.
Nick Dougherty had hopes of earning a return trip with a top-16 finish when he birdied the first and followed with five pars – but then came a double-bogey six to put him two over.
Justin Rose – joint leader after his opening 68, but way down the field after middle rounds of 78 and 73 – turned in 37 and then bogeyed the 10th and 12th.