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Mickelson's Akron aches continue in 73

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AKRON, Ohio – Two weeks off didn’t help Phil Mickelson in his continuing quest to make a few more putts.

After a surprising missed cut at the U.S. Open, Mickelson returned to action this week at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. But the southpaw wasn’t able to convert many chances en route to a 3-over 73 in the opening round at Firestone Country Club that left him nine shots behind the early pace set by William McGirt.

“I didn’t have the best putting day, but I thought I hit a lot of good shots. I just didn’t score very well,” Mickelson said. “I had a hard time getting the ball close, and then when it did I didn’t make the putt.”

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Mickelson started his day by missing a 7-foot putt for birdie on the opening hole, and things didn’t get appreciably better from there. He made only two birdies on the day, and his afternoon unraveled when a bogey on No. 13 was followed by a double bogey on No. 14 after he needed two shots to escape a fairway bunker.

Mickelson has struggled in recent years on the South Course, and he is now eight years removed from his last top-10 finish at this event. But despite an early exit at Oakmont, he came to Akron with reason to believe his strong play from earlier this season might return.

“I had a good week off, and played really well the last 3-4 days heading into here. I was really excited about how I was playing and hitting it,” he said. “I thought tee-to-green I played pretty well, but I ended up shooting over par.”