Phil Goes From Hot to Horrid
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour

Phil soured by second nine

What a difference nine holes can make. Phil Mickelson looked like he was well on his way to posting a low number on Friday after firing a five-under 31 on his first nine (the back). But he struggled coming in and shot a four-over 40 in the second round of The Players Championship. Unlike Thursday when he blasted the 13th green, saying he disagreed with the design, Phil only had himself to blame. “I had a really good front nine there to shoot 31 and I just let it go, just let the round go,” said Mickelson, who spent 30 minutes (usually it’s closer to 15) in the scoring area to collect his thoughts before emerging to speak to the press. “I don’t really know what to say. I stopped hitting fairways and really just kind of lost the momentum.”

And it’s a real pain in the neck to play TPC Sawgrass from the Bermuda rough.

“When you hit fairways and you hit greens, you can score low here,” said Phil, who only found two fairways on his second nine. “And the (first) nine, I did that, and when you start missing it, you get penalized. So it seems like it’s a pretty fair test based on risk/reward. If you play well, you score well, and if you don’t, you don’t.”

At least he has the weekend to try to compensate for those lost strokes.

“You always come out on Saturday with hopes of going low and moving up the leaderboard,” said Mickelson. “But I’m still going to have to get past this because it was a day I should be right up there on top within striking distance, and now I’ve got to go out and shoot something low 60s tomorrow to get back into it.”

Last year at The Players, Phil fired a third-round 66, but he ended up dropping to T17 after a disappointing 74 on Sunday. But going low on the weekend to charge back into contention is well within the realm of possibility. At the Shell Houston Open last month, Phil posted a 63 on moving day and hung on to win. Question is, does he have the energy?

Asked if he planned to hit the range, a weary Mickelson replied, “No, I’m a little tired. It’s warm out there, so I’ll probably rest up and maybe come out tomorrow and practice.”

(AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)