Phil Mickelson talks with the media following his round of 72.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
AKRON, Ohio -- The Champion Golfer of the Year didn't have quite the return to competition that he'd hoped at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational.
Phil Mickelson, who earned that title when he won The Open Championship in his last start, shot a 72 at Firestone Country Club on Thursday and trails Webb Simpson by eight strokes. He's disappointed, to be sure, but not overly concerned.
"I certainly didn't want to shoot over par and leave myself this far back after the first day," Mickelson said. "But my game feels sharp. I feel like I'm rolling the ball well. I know I'm swinging the ball well, and tomorrow if I can just mentally see it a little clearer, I should have a good day."
Mickelson started his first round on a positive note, making a 29-footer for birdie at the third hole. But bogeys on three of his next four holes more than set the tone for the day and he never sniffed red numbers again.
Mickelson ended the day with three birdies but negated those -- and then some -- with five bogeys. He only hit eight fairways and 11 greens in regulation, and he needed 31 putts in the round of 2 over.
"I could tell I was a little bit tired or I just wasn't able to see the shot clearly," he said. "I wasn't able to see the putt roll clearly. I had trouble seeing the shot chipping, and I just had a hard time mentally visualizing and seeing the shot today."
The problem wasn't physical fatigue as much as Mickelson was mentally drained after the emotional win at Muirfield. Knowing that could become an issue, Mickelson took Wednesday off but he feels more rest is needed.
"But I'm not concerned," Mickelson said. "I mean, my swing and game still feels very sharp. I just need to get a little bit of rest tonight and see if I can come out tomorrow a little bit more focused and start to see a little bit clearer what I'm trying to do."