Mitchell Feeling Pressure Of Masters As He Tries To Get In

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Sometimes the Masters can generate enormous pressure for a player who still doesn’t have a spot in the field. That’s what Keith Mitchell is feeling.

He came into The Players Championship at No. 47 in the world, knowing Augusta National will take the top 50 in two weeks after the Match Play. He felt he was playing well, with a tie for fourth at Pebble Beach and a fifth-place finish at Riviera.

And then he made bogey from the middle of the fairway on the par-5 ninth at the TPC Sawgrass that he thought would cause him to miss the cut. Instead, Luke List made double bogey, which allowed Mitchell two more rounds.

He had a 68-70 weekend and tied for 35th. He stayed at No. 47 and couldn’t help but wonder what could have been.

“I three-putted the last hole and made two bogeys from the middle of the fairway with a wedge,” Mitchell said. “Those are the things that make you finish 30th or 40th instead of continuing to climb the leaderboard. Just silly mistakes.”

From a probable missed cut to a tie for 35th, he said he was “decently satisfied.” What he needs is a little more freedom, which can be hard to find when the Masters means that much.

“Being 47th in the world, trying to get into Augusta, I put a lot of extra pressure on myself and I think it showed,” he said Sunday. “I didn’t play like I thought I was playing. The three-putt on the last hole could be a deal-breaker. But we still have Austin to play well.”

Mitchell has played five of the last six weeks and is taking a break. The final event to stay in the top 50 is the Dell Match Play in Austin, Texas, next week. The ranking points will be strong. Then again, everyone around him will be there. Getting out of group stage likely would be crucial.

Mitchell has been in this spot before. He went into the FedEx Cup playoffs last season at No. 37, knowing the top 30 who advance to the Tour Championship get into the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and, except in rare circumstances, the PGA Championship.

He finished just outside the top 30 in both playoff events and finished his season at No. 39 in the FedEx Cup.

“I know we’re always trying to play our best, but this one felt like a little more pressure,” he said. “Whether that came from the extra thought of trying to make the Masters? Could be.”