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Masters Countdown: Can Phil Mickelson snag fourth green jacket?

By Kyle Porter | Golf Writer

Phil Mickelson will try to make history with a fourth Masters win. (Getty Images)
Phil Mickelson will try to make history with a fourth Masters win. (Getty Images)

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As part of the Eye on Golf Masters preview we will look at a few of the top golfers in the world and what their chances are of winning the 2014 Masters. Up first, last year's champ.

Since 2000 Phil Mickelson has finished in the top five at the Masters in every even-numbered year. That includes three wins, two thirds and a fifth.

That's absurd but it doesn't tell us that much about what Lefty is going to do this year.

Or does it?

World rank

No. 5: Mickelson was 10th after last year's disappointing Masters but moved all the way to No. 2 after winning the British Open. He has been in the top five ever since.

Odds of winning

12-1: He has the best odds of anyone not named Adam Scott or Rory McIlroy.

Why he'll win it

He just contends at this place. He has only finished outside the top 10 three times since 1998. With his primary career foil out with a back injury, you have to think Mickelson's mind is freed up to take aim at a fourth win.

Plus, that even-numbered-year stat I mentioned above is quite compelling from a gambling standpoint. I know it has zero bearing on the outcome of this year's tournament but it's still hard to ignore.

With Woods out Mickelson is your de facto "I own this course, I've played it more than any of you, I know it inside and out" leader not named Fred Couples. I think Lefty knows he only has a few more bullets in the chamber at this track and you can bet he'll empty them in the next few years -- that will make for dramatic television, if nothing else.

Why he won't win it

His injured oblique from the Texas Open is lingering and I think that's worrisome. Ryan Lavner of Golf Channel reported that Mickelson was doing some sort of hula-hoop stretch in the fairway at the Houston Open on Thursday before making a birdie.

That means we could be in for anything next week.

Mickelson also finished tied for 54th with Sandy Lyle at the Masters in 2013. With as many golfers as there are in their primes (Scott, Matt Kuchar, Hunter Mahan, etc.) I'm worried about Mickelson doing a bunch of Mickelson things down the stretch Sunday. There's a reason he finished third three times in a row here before finally winning it in 2004.

Quotable

Phil Mickelson to the Augusta Chronicle:

"I would love to win the Masters a fourth time every bit as much as I would love to win the US Open a first time," he said. "The Masters is really special."

Stat you should know

Only three golfers have more green jackets than Mickelson. He can close that number to one with a win.

Recently at Augusta...

2009: T5
2010: Win
2011: T27
2012: T3
2013: T54

Recently on the PGA Tour...

Mickelson hasn't made a top 10 all year. That's also worrisome.

Prediction

I'll say Mickelson keeps his streak going of even-numbered finishes inside the top 10 but no top five or win for Lefty this year. I see him four or five back heading to Sunday and posting a 70 to lose by three. Something like that.

More predictions: Rory McIlroy | Adam Scott

For more golf news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnGolf and @KylePorterCBS on Twitter or Google+ and like us on Facebook.

 
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