Mickelson trades banter with partner Kuchar.
Phil Mickelson brought his best stuff to the Masters, at least the drive down Magnolia Lane.
Mickelson was paired Saturday with Matt Kuchar, a good friend and one of the few players for whom Mickelson never has an answer during their banter. Mickelson posted to Twitter his drive into Augusta National. He mixed his excitement with this barb at Kuchar.
“Obviously we’re not going to have any side action today because I’d probably see like .06% if I did win,” Mickelson said.
That was a slight exaggeration. Kuchar initially paid his local caddie in Mexico just under .4% – $5,000 from his $1,296,000 earnings. Kuchar later paid him $50,000.
Kuchar usually gets the better side of Mickelson.
One of those occasions was at Augusta National, when Mickelson wore Masters green alligator-skin shoes with a matching belt. Kuchar, never known to be at that sartorial level, questioned him about his wardrobe.
“You’ve got to win three green jackets to wear these,” Mickelson told him.
“Well,” Kuchar said, “let’s just hope I only win two.”
Italian connection: Tiger Woods won the first of his four Masters in 1997 playing in the final group with Costantino Rocca. Francesco Molinari was watching from home in Italy. He just doesn’t remember how long he stayed with it. Woods had a nine-shot lead and wound up winning by 12.
“I was in front of a TV, for sure,” Molinari said after building a two-shot lead Saturday. “I can’t remember, to be honest, if I stayed up until the end, because we all knew how it was going to end. I was very proud to see Costantino playing in the last group with him.”
Rocca beat Woods in singles that year in the Ryder Cup.
Prize money: For the first time, the Masters champion will get just more than $2 million in addition to a green jacket.
The prize fund was increased by $500,000 to $11.5 million. The winner will receive $2,070,000, with the runner-up getting $1,242,000. That’s still short of the $12 million prize money at the U.S. Open last year.
From an inflation standpoint, Jack Nicklaus made $902,359 from his 45 appearances, including six green jackets.
Grand slammed: The career Grand Slam was a long shot for Rory McIlroy going into the weekend at the Masters. Now it would require a record.
On Saturday, McIlroy shot a 71, leaving him 12 shots behind. No one has come from more than eight shots behind in the final round to win a green jacket.
This was his fifth try at winning the Masters when the career Grand Slam was in play. The past three players to complete the Grand Slam all did it within three years of getting the third leg.
Pepperell debut: In his Masters debut, Eddie Pepperell had a Saturday morning tee time with Jeff Knox.
Knox, an Augusta National member, is regarded as the club’s best player, who often goes out as a marker when an odd number of players make the cut. Pepperell was at the bottom of the 65 players. He soon realized he wasn’t playing with some weekend hacker.
“I saw him swinging it and I thought, ‘I’m in trouble.’ ... He’s a good player and his short game was brilliant. And he was nice. Dare I say it: He’s the friendliest professional that I ever played with.”
He said Knox shot a 74. Pepperell shot 72.