By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
FARMINGDALE, N.Y -- Phil Mickelson thought his round of 68 to kick off The Barclays on Thursday was "really close to being good."
Granted, he didn't hit as many fairways, just six to be exact, as he would have liked. Mickelson still managed 13 greens in regulation and 28 putts, though, and he bounced back well after consecutive bogeys early in his round threatened to get things headed in the wrong direction.
"It was a nice start to this event," Mickelson said. "Obviously
I didn't light it up, but I played a good, solid round. I shot 3
under, and it gets me in a good position starting the tournament.
Gosh, my game really took a turn for the positive at the PGA, where
on the weekend I started to really strike it well, and I spent time
this last week working on it.
"Today was really close to being good. I didn't drive it as well as I've been driving it these last 10 days or so, and I kind of clicked on the last shot. If I can get that going tomorrow and get the ball in the fairway off the tee, which I've been doing now of late, I really think there's an extra low round out here."
Mickelson started on the back nine Thursday and promptly converted a 10-footer for birdie. His momentum slowed with those back-to-back bogeys, each the result of missed fairways and missed greens, but Mickelson answered by draining a 43-footer on No. 13 to get back to even for the day.
Birdie putts of 12 feet followed at the 16th and second holes. A solid par save at No. 6 where Mickelson’s tee shot settled in a sandy, grassy lie at the edge of the left fairway bunker kept the round together, then he capped his scoring with a 7-footer on the seventh hole to move into a tie for 11th, four strokes off the lead.
Mickelson has history on Bethpage State Park's Black Course, owning at least a share of second in each of the first two U.S. Opens contested there. Not to mention, he feeds off the New York crowds, which will only get larger as the week progresses.
"I certainly get a lot of positive energy when I come here, the way the people have treated me in the past and the way they've been this week," Mickelson said. "It's really fun to play here. This is a special place for the game of golf with five great golf courses that really promotes the game well, and it is affordable for all. …
"I'm very appreciative of the USGA bringing the U.S. Open here and giving this golf course the credibility it deserves, and for them to host The Barclays and host us here this week, it gives our tournament and the start of the FedExCup a lot of credibility, as well."