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March 22 2013

1:10 PM

Mickelson struggles to find same game

Mickelson shot 79 Friday to finish his week at Bay Hill at 8 over. (Cannon/Getty Images)

By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Despite a 79 Friday at Bay Hill, Phil Mickelson isn't worried about the year's first major just three weeks from now.

"No not for Augusta (this doesn't phase me)," he said. "This course is totally different."

But he also knows he needs to hit better shots, something that's been a struggle for Mickelson since his win in Phoenix last month.

"I need to get my own game where it needs to be to be competitive," said Mickelson, who had two triple bogeys, a double bogey and two bogeys (and just one birdie). "From where it was a few months ago, where I felt so good and my ball-striking was some of the best I've ever had it is a little surprising because just a couple months ago I was hitting it really well."

Friday he hit it everywhere. Or in the case of the 13th hole, often.

After landing just shy of the green with his approach from a fairway bunker, Mickelson rolled his ball to 5 feet.

Then things got interesting. Mickelson missed his next three putts before finally sinking his fourth.

"Fortunately they didn't count the first one from the fringe," Mickelson said of the four-putt. "I don't know what to tell you. I just don't know what to say."

The rest of his round didn't go much better.

He bogeyed the par-4 15th after failing to get up and down from left of the green and did the same on the par-3 17th before making the turn in 40.

On the par-5 sixth, Mickelson found water off the tee, then sand after reloading. He laid up short of the green before two-putting for a 7.

In between, there were some highlights -- on the par-4 eighth after badly hooking his 3-wood into the trees, Mickelson lasered his approach under one limb and over another to within 2 feet to set up a birdie.

As Mickelson noted, though, when you're 4 over on the round, you can try shots like that.

Whatever good feelings Mickelson had were short-lived. He hit his next tee shot out of bounds before eventually making another triple bogey on his final hole of the day. He finished his week at 8 over and will miss the cut.

In the end, the 79 was his highest score ever in 48 career rounds at Bay Hill. It was also just the 19th time in 1,640 career rounds on the PGA TOUR that he has posted a score of 79 or higher in one round and just the third time he has posted that score or higher in the second round.

"I'm glad I played because had I shown up in Houston and had this happen, I wouldn't have had an opportunity to get in the competition," said Mickelson, who will play in next week's Shell Houston Open before heading to Augusta. "I'll go work with Butch (Harmon) and see if I can get it dialed in."

Part of the problem, Mickelson said, is that he's been too narrow with his swing.

Mickelson also said he plans to switch back to the putter he used the second half of last year. He had 33 putts on Friday and 61 over two rounds.

"After a little time with Butch I think it will click pretty quickly, but it feels a lot further off than I think it is," he said. "It's more than just width. I've got a ways to go."

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