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Feb 9 (Reuters) - Phil Mickelson was a frustrated figure after taking a double spill on his final hole at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am on Saturday, slipping on rocks while searching for his ball and then tumbling down the leaderboard.
The American left-hander had arrived at one of his favourite venues in buoyant mood for this week's pro-am celebrity event, fresh from a dominant display of golf at last week's Phoenix Open where he clinched his 41st PGA Tour victory by four shots.
A four-times champion at Pebble Beach, Mickelson had been in good position to close the gap on the leaders during Saturday's sun-drenched third round but he ended up making the cut right on the number after finishing bogey, birdie, triple-bogey.
"It was a beautiful day here at Pebble, we got perfect weather and I just couldn't get going," Mickelson told reporters after carding a one-over-par 73 on the Pebble Beach Golf Links, one of three venues for this week's pro-am celebrity event.
"And then to finish with a triple, it doesn't feel great. It was a really fun day to play golf. I just wish I had played a lot better."
Mickelson, who had been two under for the day with three holes remaining, hit two shots into the ocean while playing the 18th, falling on rocks while looking for his errant drive before completing his back nine in two-over 38.
"I got lucky. I didn't get hurt," the American world number 10 said of his tumble after his feet had slipped forward for him to land heavily on his back side, though he braced the fall with his hands.
"That triple takes a lot of wind out because if I could have made a birdie on the last hole and be within five, six or seven shots of the lead, you just never know," he said of the par-five 18th.
"Kind of like what happened last year if I get a hot round, but now that put me a little bit too far back."
Twelve months ago, Mickelson charged to victory by two shots at Pebble Beach after firing a flawless eight-under-par 64, outscoring his playing partner Tiger Woods by 11 strokes in the final round.
This week, though, Mickelson has been well short of that scintillating form.
"I've been just a little bit off - just a little bit off on the greens, just a little bit off with driving, a little bit off with the irons," the 42-year-old said after mixing four birdies with two bogeys and a triple in the third round.
"It just has not quite been on."
Asked to explain his relative loss of form at Pebble Beach after producing such dominant golf in the Arizona desert last week, Mickelson replied: "I wish I did. It would be easier to fix."
Four-times major champion Mickelson finished at one-under 213 and trails pacesetting Americans Brandt Snedeker and James Hahn by a distant 11 strokes going into Sunday's final round. (Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)