AUGUSTA, Ga. -- What's it gonna be this time, Phil? The old reliable three-foot lip-out? The driver into the trees? Maybe the towering wedge that spins back into the water?
How is the dream going to die this time? How is that hunger for a major championship going to be trampled into the red Georgia clay?
Or is it all as different now in Phil's world as it seems on the surface?
We'll all find out today.
Forty-six times Mickelson has teed it up in a major golf championship and 46 times he has found a way not to win.
Sometimes he has just been outplayed, beaten fair and square. But too many other times he has beaten himself.
For the first time this year, though, Mickelson has accepted that his previously willful tendencies need to be muffled.
He has accepted that by trying to do less, he can accomplish more.
Now in his 47th major championship, Mickelson is in a powerful position, tied for the lead at Augusta with 18 holes to play, to slay all his old demons.
He always has had the tools of a major champion: length, touch, guts, precision. Yet always there has been that one critical moment when whatever could go wrong, did.
Nine times in those 46 previous championships enveloping the Masters, the United States Open, the British Open and the PGA Championship, Mickelson has been good enough to finish in the top five, but never in the winner's circle.
In his 11 previous Masters, he has finished in the top 10 six times, including third-place finishes in each of the past three years.
And never -- not once -- has he slept on even a share of a third-round lead.
"I feel like I've had so many chances to win, I can't believe that I haven't been in the lead," the big left-hander said.
"Heading into the final round I'm much more at ease than I've been in the past, where I've been anxious and wondering if I'm going to drive it in play or is my swing going to be there.
"I don't feel anxiety and I haven't felt it all year."
Mickleson rededicated himself to his overall game during the off-season and has reaped the benefits, hitting his shots straighter and with the kind of distance control this golf course demands.
In the past, he gambled far too much because he often found himself in weird places because of his wayward driver.
"Years ago I didn't spend much time trying to drive the ball in the fairway. I've always been trying to hit the ball hard and make as many birdies as possible. Now I understand it's a much easier game when you keep it in play," he said.
"I wish somebody would have told me this earlier."
That last statement was a joke.
Mickelson has been hearing people preach restraint for years. It is just recently he has started paying heed.
Now he's in perhaps the best position he ever has been to win a major championship and become, ironically the second consecutive left-handed Masters winner. A year ago, Mickelson made it clear he expected to be the first lefty to get that distinction, but Mike Weir beat him to the punch.
"For whatever reason, and there are a number of reasons, it has been much more difficult for me to win major championships than regular Tour events," Mickelson said. "It's confusing because I seem to be able to get into contention in majors.
"I do know if I'm fortunate enough to come through and win that green jacket, you'll see my dumb mug here every year for the rest of my life."
One of the reasons Mickleson has been unable to win major championships has been the presenc e of Tiger Woods, who has eight to his credit.
Nine shots off the lead, Tiger is not expected to be a factor today.
Mickelson was asked how he felt about not having to stare down Woods today.
"Well, it doesn't suck, I'll say that," Mickelson said.
Restraint or not, Mickelson still has to prove his mettle in the toughest pressure-cooker in golf, down the stretch at Augusta.
If he has truly gotten rid of his fatal flaw, then it will show today.
If not, it will be just another cruel day in the life of Phil Mickelson.