Phil Mickelson won hhis 41st PGA TOUR event earlier this year. (Trotman/Getty Images)
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- The good news? Phil Mickelson finally broke par at The Old White TPC with his round of 68 on Friday.
The bad? Well, Mickelson missed the cut at The Greenbrier Classic for the third straight year. That had never happened to him in any tournament during his World Golf Hall of Fame career.
Mickelson, who missed the cut by three shots, completed 36 holes at 2 over after opening with a 74. But he started on the back nine Friday and had turned in 32 -- which put him at even for the tournament and well within sniffing distance of playing on the weekend.
But Mickelson missed a 6-footer to save par at the second hole, as well as an 8-footer at No. 6 after he found the fairway bunker off the tee. Mickelson made a 13-footer for birdie at No. 7 but gave that stroke back when he missed the fairway and the green at No. 9.
Even so, Mickelson was pleased with his performance on Friday.
"I hit a lot of good shots and I think I've figured out why I've struggled here," he said. "It's my distance control with my irons I haven't figured out yet. We're a couple thousand feet, we've been practicing at sea level, so obviously it's going to go longer. It's the same altitude as Phoenix but it goes a different yardage and I haven't quite figured it out.
"I've posed over a lot of iron shots today and they end up not just a yard or two off from where I figure, but they're 10 or 12 yards off from where I figure. I think as I look back on these last three years, that's been the biggest issue for me is distance control with the irons."
For the week Mickelson hit 21 of 28 fairways and 22 of 36 greens in regulation. His putter wasn't particularly cooperative, either, with 60 in the first two rounds.
Even though the golfer in Mickelson wishes he had played better, the course designer in him enjoys The Old White TPC.
"I think it's one of the best architecturally designed golf courses that we've played," Mickelson said. "I mean, I'm looking at every hole, studying it, learning from it. I thought the course set-up was fabulous this year, I just think it's a great track."
Mickelson now turns his focus to the British Open, where he finished second two years ago.
"It's a totally different style of play, different thick, heavy air, a lot of wind, typically bad weather, firm ground, and so I'll start getting the ball down and working these next couple of days on getting the ball along the ground." he said.