Out-of-sorts Mickelson Silent at Champions Dinner

Phil Mickelson is a three-time Masters champion. It's his favourite week of the year, supposedly, but, having missed last year for the first time in 28 years through a self-imposed hiatus, he was back at Augusta this year though nothing like his usual bullish self.

At the Champions Dinner it was reported that he didn't say a word, in among all the incessant talk of LIV Golf, at what is traditionally an evening full of stories and laughter.

As Fuzzy Zoeller explained: “We’re just 33 past champions in a room, all trying to get along,” said 1979 winner Fuzzy Zoeller. “Nobody said a word about it. Phil sat near the end of the table and kept to himself. He didn’t speak at all.”

Tommy Aaron, who won the Masters 50 years ago, added: “I wished him good luck, but I couldn’t believe how quiet he was. Phil took a very low profile. He didn’t say a word.”

Apparently Mickelson, now down to 425 on the world rankings, was asked by the Masters committee if he would like to have his usual press conference but he politely declined.

He did speak to reporters after a practice round with Harold Varner III where he trotted out the usual platitudes.

“It’s great to be back,’’ Mickelson told reporters. “It is my favourite week, so being here and being a part of it and being able to experience this great place and what it means is so fun because, as a kid, you grow up dreaming about being a part of this.

"You dream of winning it, being in contention, and then when you actually are a pro and you are playing here, you’re like, ‘Wow, I want to be a part of this every year.’ That’s the coolest thing about having won here is that you’re a part of this event and part of the history. It’s really, really special thing.’’

There was no mention of LIV at the Champions Dinner but there was a nod to Aaron, Mark O'Meara, who won here 25 years ago, and Sandy Lyle and Larry Mize who will be playing their last Masters this year.

And it was an emotional room, as Lyle explains.

"I was OK. The one guy I thought was going to be brilliant was Larry Mize because he's used to speaking to people, a man of the church, whatever you want to say. He's done lots of readings, and I thought he'll have no problem at all, and he clammed up like a clam shell. He just stood up there and had a glass of water and another glass of water and we all (whistles), but obviously we've all got feelings.

"He's tough enough to win a Masters, but when it comes to that kind of emotional thing, we've all got feelings. He's going to be very emotional going down the last two holes I'm sure. I will be, as well, but I maybe don't show it as much as he does."

The only hot topic was Scottie Scheffler's tortilla soup.

"I had the soup and had to sort of swab the top of my head because it was perspiring. I like hot food; I'm used to curries and things like that, so I'm not too bad. But I think Couples was like holding his throat, oh, my God. So it caught a few people by surprise. I think we needed some more yogurt out there and stick some yogurt in it, and that would have calmed it down.

"I suppose it's a little bit like when I had haggis. A lot of people didn't know what haggis was, from Scotland. So there was a lot of dishes going back still full."