Mickelson (71) enjoys 'challenge' of windy Honda conditions


PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – The gusting winds Thursday at the Honda Classic left many players shaking their heads, but Phil Mickelson walked off PGA National with a smile on his face.

Mickelson took an optimistic approach after opening with a 1-over 71, a score that left him in the middle of the pack amid difficult scoring conditions on the Champion Course.

“I just really enjoy the challenge of these windy conditions,” Mickelson said. “It’s fun. You’re not able to hit just the same shots over and over, and some I pulled off and some I didn’t. I enjoyed the challenge of the round.”

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Mickelson opened with a bogey on the difficult 10th hole but worked his way back to 1 under for the round before finding the water on Nos. 5 and 6, leading to back-to-back bogeys.

“I made a couple mistakes coming in,” he said. “I have a couple focus things I’ll work on, seeing the shot a little better. But I hit a lot of good shots today and I hit a few bad ones, and made the putts I should make, for the most part.”

Putting has been an area of concern recently for Mickelson, who missed the cut in each of his last two starts. He needed only 27 putts Thursday, and after the round stated that he hit “every putt” on line.

“Putting is not really the issue I’m worried about, even though it was a weakness earlier in the year,” he said. “I thought it was fine today, and I don’t expect it to be an issue. But we’ll see.”