'I've really struggled with my putting here,' Mickelson said after his round on Friday. 'I've really struggled on the greens here. Otherwise I've been pretty pleased by the way I've been hitting.'
He had a terrible stretch of three scoreless holes when he made the turn with four points on the front side.
Mickelson had a three-foot birdie putt on No. 1 and sent it wide left of the cup. Missing a 15-footer for birdie on No. 2 had him shaking his head and his 18-footer on No. 3 stopped dead in its tracks at the jaws of the hole.
'I don't read the lines very well,' he said of his problems with the greens. 'I had a three-footer on the first hole that I knew went to the right and it went left so obviously I didn't know it.'
He landed in the bunker on No. 4 but saved par by converting a tricky 10-foot put. His misfortune continued with a bogey on No. 5 after finding a fairway bunker to fall to three points and then leaving a birdie putt well short on No. 6.
When asked to compare his game now to when he was winning tournaments, Mickelson said: 'I don't know how to compare it. That's been awhile.
'I feel pretty good with way I've been striking it. It's just that I've got to get a littler bit better on the greens.'
SAVING CHIP SHOT
Davis Love III needed something, anything to arouse what had been a stagnant round. He reached the extended fringe at No. 3 without a point.
'I had to have a shot,' he said. 'I had to have a birdie.'
Love got it from his pitching wedge. The ball bounced softly on the front of the green and rolled 15 feet into the center of the cup.
'That was big,' Love said. 'I had to make some birdies somewhere. I had thrown a bunch away.'
The hole seemed to energize him. He birdied the last two holes to finish at seven points.
THE BLIND SQUIRREL
Birdies and points had been hard to come by for Denver native Jonathan Kaye. He had one birdie and minus-3 points in the opening round.
'You'd figure that even a blind squirrel is going to get one of them,' he said. 'I had a few more of them today.'
Kaye scored five birdies and added an eagle on No. 17. It boosted him to 10 points for the day and seven for the tournament and within striking distance of the leaders. It also had him questioning his vision.
'I'm going to get examined today,' Kaye said. 'I might have to get surgery on my right eye.'
RETURN TO MEDINAH
The timing wasn't right to ask Sergio Garcia his thoughts about returning to the Medinah Country Club in suburban Chicago for next week's PGA Championship.
'My focus is on the International for the rest of the week,' Garcia said. 'I'll have plenty of time to think about Medinah Sunday after the round is over.'
Later, he admitted the return would have some significance to him.
'Medinah and Chicago are special places for me,' he said. 'It's where everybody got to know me.'