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January 25 2013

8:28 PM

Mickelson: My game is a 'fraction off'

By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM

LA JOLLA, Calif. -- Sure, Phil Mickelson wanted to play the final two rounds of the Farmers Insurance Open.

But he wasn't going to be huddled around a computer waiting to see whether 1 under was enough to keep him around for the weekend in his hometown event.

As it turned out, Mickelson did make the cut on the number, one of a whopping 87 players who survived to do battle on the South Course on Saturday and Sunday. Regardless of whether it was in competition or on the range, though, Mickelson would have been working on his game.

"It's just a fraction off," the lefthander said after squeaking with a 71 in despite bogeys on his last two holes. "I just don't quite feel great.  I've thrown a lot of shots away on the greens, and my iron play hasn't been as good as it has been heading into the start of the year. ... So I want to see if I can get it turned around and get it going."

Mickelson, who tied for 37th at the Humana Challenge in his 2013 debut last week, generally plays well on the West Coast where he's won 18 of his 40 PGA TOUR events. He's playing the next three weeks, too, including his title defense at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, so there is a sense of urgency.

On Friday, though, he hit just six of 14 fairways -- but that was up from two in the first round. Mickelson hit 11 of 18 greens in regulation for the second straight day and used 27 putts.

In 23 starts at the Farmers Insurance Open, Mickelson has three wins, two second-place finishes and one third. His low round on the South Course is a 64 and he'll need a couple of those to challenge with Tiger Woods setting the pace at 11 under.

That's why those two closing bogeys on Friday hurt so much. Mickelson, who went back to his old putter on Friday and played with all-weather gloves on both hands for traction, was 3 under for the tournament before that stumbling finish.

"I was trying to make one or two birdies to get within striking distance if I shot a low round tomorrow," Mickelson said. "So making bogey the last two holes kind of hurt and brought me back to where the cut line is a factor."

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