LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England – After a 3-over 73 that left him nine strokes off the lead after the first round of the Open Championship, Phil Mickelson easily summarized what went wrong.
“I putted poorly today and I drove it horrific and the chipping was below average,” he explained.
The self-flagellation didn’t end there, either.
“I hit it terribly,” he continued. “I hit it in the rough – and the rough is not very playable. And you've got to keep it into the fairway, end of story. [And] I hit some bad long irons.”
Mickelson endured his usual roller coaster ride for the opening dozen holes, carding three birdies, four pars, four bogeys and a double before finally finishing with six consecutive pars.
While his record at this tournament leaves something to be desired for a Hall of Fame member, one of his two top-10 results (in 18 total starts) came at last year’s edition of the event, when he finished in a share of second place at Royal St. Georges.
“I have not played well for a while, so I'm not sure if this is a long term thing or short term or what,” said Mickelson, who owns one top-10 in his last seven starts worldwide. “So we'll see.”
He intimated that despite Thursday’s late finish, he was planning to work with instructor Butch Harmon on the range in hopes of ironing out a swing he has described recently as “loose.”
“Very rare I hit golf balls after the round,” he said. “Butch saw something, and hopefully we'll get it figured out for tomorrow. If you get the ball in the fairway off the tee you can shoot a low score here. If I can get it in play off the tee, I can get a low round going tomorrow, but that was just terrible.”