May 27 2010
Before he had left the scoring area Thursday evening, Phil Mickelson was already preparing for the second round of the Crowne Plaza Invitational.
A disappointing round of 71 had left the 2008 champion -- who could take over the No. 1 ranking in the world with a win this week -- in a tie for 89th and in danger of missing the cut. So Mickelson had already been exchanging text messages with his swing guru, Butch Harmon.
They had plenty to discuss, too. The round had started with so much promise as Mickelson got up-and-down from a greenside bunker at the first hole for birdie and added another at No. 2 on an 8-foot putt.
The tide turned at No. 7, though, when Lefty hit his approach into the hazard to the left of the green and made double bogey. He got one stroke back with a 16-footer at the eighth hole but didn't make another birdie the rest of the day.
To add insult to injury, Mickelson closed with bogeys at Nos. 16 and 18. He couldn't get up and down from the front greenside bunker at the par 3 and played the 18th from 17th fairway on the way to his final bogey.
"I played well the first four holes but the last 14 I played terrible,” Mickelson said. “So I'll have some work to do. I already was in there texting Butch so I've got some direction for in the morning. I'll probably get out here for an early session."
Asked whether the hot, heavy air and bright sunlight had sapped his energy, Mickelson refused to give himself a pass.
"I've had a tough last couple of days because I've been doing a lot of outings, and maybe energy was a factor, I'm not sure," he said. "But there's no excuse. There's no wind. The golf course is in perfect shape. There are a lot of scores out there. I just wasn't one of them."
Mickelson, who ended up hitting just five fairways although he managed 12 of 18 greens, knew he had squandered a day tailor-made for scoring. He had 30 putts for the round, as well.
There's always Friday, though. And Mickelson, who won the Masters and finished second at the Quail Hollow Championship two weeks later, is nothing if not resilient.
"The greens should be perfect," Mickelson said. "And if I can get a few iron shots close to the hole I should be able to make a run." – Helen Ross