By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
LA QUINTA, Calif. -- For the record, Phil Mickelson is no longer contagious. In fact, he says he's about 95 percent back after battling flu-like symptoms for about 10 days.
But unfortunately for Mickelson, his putter wasn't cooperative on Thursday during the first round of the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation. He needed 30 strokes on the greens and ended up shooting a 72 at La Quinta that left him tied for 122nd and in danger of missing the cut in his 2013 debut.
"My timing and rhythm was off a little bit today," Mickelson said. "My putter was atrocious and I've been putting great too. So that was disappointing. But ... I know that it's there even though the results have been today were what they, were not good. And I'm looking forward to playing tomorrow.
"I birdied the last hole and hit some decent shots coming in, but on the greens and out-of-bounds on 10 and four, five, 6-footers, that has prevented me from having a good round today."
Mickelson is using a slightly different Odyssey Versa putter than the one he used last year. This version has white and black contrast as opposed to the lines on top of his other one, and in practice he's been very pleased with his results.
"I didn't think much of it until I was putting at night and I just started making everything in my yard," Mickelson said. "And it kind of dawned on me that I wasn't looking at the line and getting so line-conscious at the ball. I was more worried about kind of rolling the putt and I just knew where I was aimed instinctively from the contrast on the putter and I thought that, gosh, this might, this actually might have something to it.
"So I've been putting a little bit more out of my subconscious, although today I get in there and I go back to all right, you know, come on, and I wanted to make them so bad I just missed a bunch of 6-footers, but I've been putting it well."
Mickelson, who lives in San Diego but owns a home in the desert, has felt well enough to practice the last couple of days. He even got in a couple of holes on Wednesday and he's looking forward to seeing if he can play his way into the weekend on Friday.
"I love playing for a living and it's what I love to do," Mickelson said. "So when I'm not playing for awhile, I really get excited to get back out and I was really amped up, I was nervous today and excited to play and maybe a little over-amped because again everything was quick, my rhythm, timing everything was quick. My putting was a little firm. So hopefully I'll settle down tomorrow and play a good round."