Phil Mickelson opened with a three-over 75 at TPC Sawgrass in the first round of The Players Championship, which puts him well outside of the cut line. It was another disappointing performance for Mickelson, who followed a sizzling 63 last Saturday with a dumpy, closing 76 at the Wells Fargo Championship.
Mickelson has struggled with his putting and worked with short game guru Dave Stockton on Monday at TPC Sawgrass. Apparently, Phil hasn’t been able to find consistency with his stroke, needing 33 putts on Thursday.
“I was playing well and hit a lot of greens, but it was frustrating because I was over par,” said Mickelson following his round Thursday morning.
“The golf course was, there’s a lot of birdies out there. It’s soft, there’s just a lot of birdies out there. Yeah, it’s a little disappointing and frustrating.”
Yet, he couldn’t muster an explanation for his struggles on the greens.
“I don’t feel like any parts of the game are bad, I just have a hard time seeing the ball go in the hole and getting it to go in the hole.”
The greens at TPC Sawgrass suffered from a difficult winter and the “misapplication of a product that was supposed to help root growth.” However, it didn’t seem to hinder Martin Kaymer, who fired a nine-under 63 in the afternoon, or Russell Henley, who shot 65, or the eight players that posted 67s. (*Update: Sang-Moon Bae carded a six-under 66.)
Mickelson has withdrawn from two tournaments and missed the cut at the Masters this year. Aside from his tied for second finish at a European Tour event in Abu Dhabi in January, he has failed to finish in the top 10 thus far into 2014 — which is the longest he’s gone any season as a professional without doing so. (And, wait, wasn’t he in contention and near the lead heading into the final round at Quail Hollow last week? Yes, but his closing 76 dropped him to place T11.)
Mickelson will need to figure out his putting woes in the second round if he wants to see weekend play.
“Come out and try to play as hard as I can and see how low I can shoot,” he said when asked for his mentality heading into Friday. “But I’m not real worried about it, it’s just not quite clicking right now.”
Phil is more concerned with making sure his game is ready by the time the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 rolls around in five weeks time.
“For me, I need to get in contention to kind of build my confidence, because the early part of the year I haven’t had that experience, and it showed in my performance on Sunday,” he told ESPN.com. “So I want to get in contention here, which is why I’ll play Memorial and Memphis as well leading into the US Open.”