January 31 2013
By Fred Albers, PGA TOUR.COM Correspondent
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- It was the most unfortunate 60 I will ever see. Phil Mickelson said he thought it was a “done deal” following his birdies at the third and fourth holes. The deal came unraveled on the final two holes. Mickelson left a 19-foot putt on his 17th hole just two rotations short of the cup. He said the putt was downhill, down grain and he could not believe it came up short. The lip-out on the ninth, his 18th hole, was just unlucky. It caught a good portion of the cup but did not tumble home. It was as if the gods of golf said, ‘that will be enough Phil.’
15th hole: Everyone points to Mickelson’s lip-out on the ninth as robbing him of a 59, but the real culprit might have been the 15th. Mickelson was just short of the green with his second shot on the par 5. A substandard chip left him with 7 feet for birdie. Mickelson said it was the only bad putt he hit the whole day, recalling “it limped up to the cup.” He hit every putt with authority, with the exception of that one on the 15th. Mickelson made par on an easy par 5.
Camaraderie: It was readily apparent both Jason Dufner and Rickie Fowler were rooting for Mickelson to shoot 59. Fowler made a point of consoling him after his birdie on the ninth lipped out, even before putting his own birdie. Fowler made his putt and glanced at Mickelson as if to say ‘I wish it had been you who made the birdie.’
Caddie: Mickelson pulled double duty on the third hole. He hit his approach at the par 5 to within a foot of the cup and reached the green before caddie Jim Mackay. Mickelson pulled the flagstick and laid it on the ground and made his 1-foot putt for bridie before anyone else had reached the green. He was eating calmly eating a sandwich when Dufner asked what score he should write down on the card. They both shared a laugh when Mickelson said he made the putt for birdie.
Driver: Mickelson made a driver change on Tuesday and was perhaps more excited about his long game than his putting. He switched to a Callaway Razr Fit Extreme and even though he hit just eight of 14 fairways, Mickelson was excited about the ball flight and control.
Frost: The one-hour frost delay might have actually helped scoring. When the ice melted from the green, the ensuing liquid softened the putting surfaces. Players found the greens receptive and perhaps a touch slower than usual. The combination led to aggressive approaches and putts, which resulted in low scoring.
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here.