DUBLIN, Ohio – Did cellphones play a role in Phil Mickelson's withdrawal from the Memorial on Thursday?
Mickelson withdrew after a 79 on Thursday, citing mental fatigue.
He said it was more important for him to be rested for the U.S. Open in two weeks than to finish Jack Nicklaus' tournament. He attributed the fatigue to playing three straight weeks, then going to Europe to celebrate his wife's 40th birthday. He returned home to play a corporate outing Tuesday in New York, flew to Ohio for the pro-am and found his head wasn't in the game.
His group, which included Masters champion Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler, had a massive gallery with several fans taking pictures with their phones. Watson complained about the phones, though Mickelson said it was ''more that mentally I wasn't able to focus as well from the last month.''
Mickelson was even par for the tournament with a birdie on the par-5 11th, and then he played 7 over par the rest of the way, including a tee shot into the water on the par-3 16th for a double bogey.
''I knew he was struggling throughout the day,'' Fowler said. ''You could tell he was a little tired. He's been traveling a bit lately. He told us there in the trailer when we were signing the cards. Obviously, it was a little bit of a grind out there today.''
Watson said the phones have been ''pretty bad ever since they made that rule'' that allows fans to take phones on the course, although pictures are not allowed and there are designated areas to make calls.
''When they make these marquee pairings, more people are going to follow them and more people want to take pictures, so it makes it very difficult,'' Watson said. ''Ever since they made that rule that cell phones are allowed, it's just not fun playing.
''It took Phil out of his game,'' Watson said. ''Phil's a great player and a great champion, and it just took him out of his game. It's sad. It's sad that cell phones can make or break a championship.''