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Mickelson vs Cog Hill

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LEMONT, Ill. – Can you win on a golf course design you don’t really like?

That’s the question for Phil Mickelson this week.

As much as he tried to bite his tongue after shooting a 1-over-par 72 Thursday at the BMW Championship, his frustration with Cog Hill’s design seeped through anyway. Mickelson said his challenge in the third leg of the FedEx Cup Playoffs is “mentally getting up” to play the course.

After being pressed three times on what he doesn’t like about a course redesigned two years ago by Rees Jones, Mickelson finally asked reporters if they enjoyed playing the new course. You’ll have to read into the exchange to discern what he doesn’t like about Cog Hill.

“It is not harder or easier that is the difference,” Mickelson said of the redesign. “It is about the overall shot values, the cool shots you have, the opportunities to get close to pins, the slopes provided, chipping areas that are fun. What kind of bunker shots do you have? Is there a variety of irons shots into the par 4s and par 3s? Those are the questions you look at.

“Certainly, it is going to be more challenging because that is the goal, but then you have to ask what kind of shots are you being required to hit. Are you being rewarded for good shots? Or being penalized for bad ones fairly or adequately? Those are the questions I look at when I look at design.”

Mickelson listened to one local reporter tell him it was difficult for the average player.

“It’s unplayable for the average guy,” Mickelson said.

Mickelson isn’t alone in questioning the redesign. Earlier in the week, Steve Stricker took issue with the green complexes.

“I think visually it looks great from the tee,” Stricker said. “Rees Jones did a great job visually. The greens, on the other hand, are somewhat different, to put it nicely. He’s got a characteristic about them that I don’t really care for.”