CHASKA, Minn. – Phil Mickelson created a buzz around the practice range with his arrival Wednesday morning at Hazeltine National.
After looking as if he were going to set up in front of the jam-packed bleachers, Mickelson moved to the end of the range, drawing a giant groan from fans who wanted to see him. Dozens of fans emptied the bleachers to follow him and pressed five rows deep against protective fencing to watch him warm up. They scampered in herds when he and swing coach Butch Harmon moved to the short-game practice area shortly after.
Typically, Mickelson doesn't practice on site the day before an event, but family issues have changed his life's patterns. His wife, Amy, is by his accounts recuperating well from breast cancer surgery. He spent about 20 minutes on the range before heading to the first tee for a practice round, joining Fred Couples, Dustin Johnson and Ryan Benzel.
The crowds at Hazeltine are huge even for the practice rounds. The galleries following Mickelson and Couples smothered the ropes nearly the entire length of the first fairway.
Mickelson is scheduled to meet the media after his practice round.