PITTSFORD, N.Y. – Not having a driver in the bag has allowed Phil Mickelson to dial in his aggressive spirit – and, it should be pointed out, delivered a claret jug to Lefty’s major mantel – but late Thursday he showed that he can still get into trouble with a 3-wood.
Clinging to a 1-under round on the 18th tee, Mickelson hit his drive into the trees adjacent the final fairway, clipped a branch with his second and closed with a sloppy double bogey for a 1-over 71 at the PGA Championship.
“I was trying to get a 9-iron through the little gap so I would have a 100-yard shot left, and it hit a tree. I was fighting for (bogey) from the start, and I ended up making a (double bogey),” Mickelson said. “So it's not like I lost too much.”
It was the second double bogey of the day for Mickelson, who hit a shot out of bounds at the par-5 fourth hole, in an eventful round that featured seven one-putts and just eight hit fairways.
The round left Mickelson tied for 50th and sent him directly to the Oak Hill practice tee searching for answers with swing coach Butch Harmon.
“I was working on the exact opposite thing that we needed to do, and I'm glad I had a few minutes with him, because I wanted to be able to think about what it is I'm going to be doing tomorrow tonight, as opposed to trying to find it in the morning,” Mickelson said.
The world No. 2 had played great to start his last two majors, opening with a 67 at Merion in June and 69 at Muirfield, but now finds himself six strokes back to start the week at the year’s final major.