Mickelson blames bad 'mental' day

Phil Mickelson blamed a bad "mental" day and a lack of tournament sharpness for a four-over-par 76 on Thursday that matched his worst opening round at the Masters.

Three-times winner Mickelson, playing in his 22nd Masters, posted a stunning pair of sevens on the day and finished eight strokes behind first-round leader Bill Haas, who topped a crowded leaderboard after a sunny day at Augusta National.

"It was just perfect all day and there was possibilities for low scores and I actually played well," said a disappointed Mickelson, 43. "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 green, but I didn't hit anything unsolid. I hit them solid, I just misjudged the shot."

Mickelson started with six pars before taking a triple bogey seven at the par-four seventh, where he criss-crossed through the green after sending a flop shot firmly to the other side of the green and chipped back too strong the other way as his vaunted short-game touch deserted him.

“I just hit them too firm, both of them on seven," lamented the American, ranked fifth in the world .

Birdies at the 10th, where he sank a curling 50-foot birdie, and 13th holes, moved the big lefthander back to one over par and in position to salvage a decent round. However, after a bogey at 14 Mickelson took his second seven at the par-five 15th, where he spun his short approach back off the front bank and into the pond on the way to a double-bogey.

"At 15, I eased into it. I hit it solid, (but) I hit it terribly easy. It was just mental mistakes like that, that I wasn't sharp," he said. "I made a lot of mistakes like that around the greens and just threw away a ton of shots."

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