Augusta: 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."
Mickelson said he may be suffering from a lack of tournament sharpness after withdrawing from last month`s Texas Open with a pulled abdominal muscle.
"I hit all those chips solid and flush, but I misjudged them. I was just off. I was really off today," said Mickelson, who claimed his fifth major title with last year`s rousing victory at the British Open. "It was very disappointing.
"It wasn`t the best day for me today. I`ve got a lot of work to do tomorrow just to make the cut."