By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
NORTON, Mass. -- How good was Phil Mickelson's pitch shot on the 11th hole Saturday at TPC Boston?
Not even he could explain it.
"I could describe it, but nobody is going to understand that," Mickelson said. "It was a really good shot."
Even when he was at his worst, Mickelson found a way to be at his best with a wild and wacky even-par 71 that included a double bogey, two bogeys and four birdies.
"That was almost me at my best, because I could have easily shot myself right out of the tournament, when I just kind of lost it there for a few holes," said Mickelson, who is 8 under for the week and five shots off the lead at the Deutsche Bank Championship. "Instead I was able to find it there at the end. I fought hard."
After a mostly uneventful start, Mickelson's round took a turn toward the weird beginning on the par-4 ninth, where he went into a hazard left but still managed to save par.
He found another hazard on the next hole -- this time to the right -- and made bogey.
And if it weren't for a tree on the par-3 11th, his ball might have disappeared into the woods and he wouldn't have been able to hit a 32-yard pitch shot from a clumps of grass that spun back to 2 feet to save par.
"To be able to spin it back from that distance and lob it, it sure looks good," Mickelson said. "It came off perfect."
The rest of his round was anything but.
Mickelson missed the green badly to the left on No. 14 and made bogey. Two holes later, he found water off the tee on the par 3 and made double.
The left-hander hit into the crowd so often, in fact, at one point NBC's Roger Maltbie said, "He's spent so much time out here in the galleries, I think he knows them all by first name now."
But in classic fashion, Mickelson saved his round with back-to-back birdies to finish, sinking an 8-footer on 17 and getting up-and-down from a bunker on the par-5 18th.
"It kept me within striking distance," Mickelson said. "If I go on and play the way I believe I'm going to this weekend I'm going to look back at those nine holes as the key to the entire tournament."