Phil Mickelson struggles to second-round 75 at Wells Fargo Championship
Fun and frivolity disappears on back nine as he drops down the leaderboard
May 07, 2021
By Cameron Morfit , PGATOUR.COM
- Phil Mickelson ended Friday with a disappointing 75 at the Wells Fargo Championship. (Ben Jared/PGA TOUR)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – What a difference a day makes.
Not 24 hours after Phil Mickelson seized the lead with a magical 64 at the Wells Fargo Championship, he succumbed to mental mistakes and plummeted down the leaderboard with a 75 on Friday.
At 3 under total he was still within reach of the leaders with the afternoon wave just getting started.
“I threw two shots away on 15 and two on 17,” Mickelson said, “and that ultimately — you know, things I've been doing, and I just can't keep doing that. I'm optimistic for the weekend, though.”
At 50, Mickelson has struggled with mental lapses despite meditation, eye exercises and dietary changes. Particularly egregious, he said, was his bogey at the par-5 15th – he was up around the green in two but watched his pitch shot bleed off the back of the green – and double-bogey on the par-3 17th (water).
“I hit a lot of good shots on the front nine,” he said. “I didn't make any putts and turned in even. Then the back nine I made – I just – I just wasn't sharp. I think kind of an example of what I've been talking about is like on 17 we're standing over the ball and I'm changing my mind and I'm changing the shot, moving the clubhead a little bit and it just – instead of backing away and kind of refocusing.
“I just kind of hit it and I'm not really kind of aware of what I'm doing.”
Everything was fun, fun, fun on Thursday, when the fizz of his chemistry with Joel Dahmen (72, 2 under) and Lanto Griffin (68, 1 over, in danger of missing the cut) bubbled over into the golf.
“We got in some dopamine talk,” Dahmen said after his first-ever round with Mickelson.
“Frontal lobe and dopamine,” he continued, “and then the units of it, which I was actually impressed with. Then he hit a 6‑iron to three feet, so he must have had his dopamine correct on that one.”
Mickelson laughed. “I hope you were paying attention,” he said.
There was no such jocularity Friday, especially not on the back nine, when Mickelson shot 40 and looked like the guy who is 165th in the FedExCup and 115th in the world. He hit his tee shot into the water and did well to save par at the par-4 14th hole, and his bogey on 15 seemed to come out of nowhere.
“I hit a great drive and I kind of went blank on the 2-wood (second shot),” he said, “because I couldn't quite get it there and I wasn't sure what I was doing and I just kind of hit without realizing I was hitting and (lacking) a purpose and a swing purpose.
“It's just little things like that that I've been struggling with,” he continued. “Then I hooked it to the right and compounded it with a few bad wedges. I love the golf course, I'm playing well, and if I can stay focused this weekend, I'm going to have a good weekend.”