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    Mickelson takes step back Thursday at The Barclays

  • Phil Mickelson had three birdies and three bogeys at Ridgewood Country Club in Round 1. (Chris Condon/PGA TOUR) Phil Mickelson had three birdies and three bogeys at Ridgewood Country Club in Round 1. (Chris Condon/PGA TOUR)

PARAMUS, N.J. -- Nothing has come easily to Phil Mickelson this season, and Thursday's first round of The Barclays was no exception.

The affable lefthander had gained some much-needed momentum and confidence when he nearly won the PGA Championship two weeks ago. But it was a case of back to the future again at Ridgewood when he opened with an even-par 71 on Thursday.

Mickelson, who came into the FedExCup Playoffs ranked 47th, was erratic off the tee and his adventures in the thick rough -- which he likened to what the pros faced in the final major at Valhalla -- left a lot to be desired. He only hit 11 greens in regulation and consquently didn't have the chances he needed to go low.


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"The golf course is just in great shape but the rough is very thick, and I missed a few too many fairways today, but had an okay start," Mickelson said. "Even par isn't what I wanted but it was still a nice day on the golf course. I can't get over what great shape the greens are in. They are just spectacular."

At lush as the rough was, Mickelson said he had only himself to blame.

"The fairways are very fair," he said. "They are fair width. You should be able to hit them and it was only some poor swings that I made that missed them."

Mickelson has not missed the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola since it became the finale of the FedExCup Playoffs -- and he's won twice at East Lake during his career. He'll have three events to play his way into the top 30 and make the field for the eighth straight year but he's trying not to focus on the survive-and-advance nature of the Playoffs.

"I think you're here to try to win a golf tournament and if you play well, you can't worry about points, you can't worry about what other guys are doing," he said. "You just have to go out and shoot low scores and try to win the golf tournament. If you do that and get in contention, you're going to keep moving forward."

That's what made his round of even par frustrating.

"You just don't want to get off to too bad a start on Thursday," Mickelson said. "I didn't play great. I had a rough front nine and kept it at even par which is a good thing, because if I get it turned around and shoot a low one tomorrow, I can get right back in it."

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