Two days ago, Phil Mickelson told a fan not to add him to his fantasy golf lineup.
And after an opening-round 65 Thursday, he admitted that he had arrived in Napa expecting to head home after two days.
Instead, Mickelson ascended to the top of the board Friday, moving to 10 under par and taking to the second round co-lead through the end of the morning wave.
A miserable week in Paris and a long trip to California had Mickelson less than bullish about his chances, but his play is forcing him to re-evaluate.
“Well, I’m cautiously optimistic,” he said. “It’s certainly turning from pessimistic, because I didn’t think that I was going to be here on the weekend, and the next thing you know, I’m up on top of the leaderboard.
“It’s a crazy game, because I had the worst warmup yesterday. I didn’t have a great warmup session today … and my expectation were nil. But I’ve hit a lot of good shots. I’m really surprised.”
To no one’s surprise, Mickelson is still struggling off the tee, having found just 13 of 28 fairways at Silverado. Nonetheless, he’s missed only four greens each day, and he’s making up ground on the field via the greens, holing 227 feet worth of putts over two days.
“Certainly, growing up on poa annua greens, I feel comfortable with that. But it’s more than that,” he said. “The last three or four years, I’ve become a really good putter, week in and week out with a few bad weeks, as opposed to having average putting with a few spikes. And so, every time I show up, I feel confident that I’m going to make them. I’ve made a lot of the short ones here, the 3- and 4-footers, that allows me to be more aggressive on the 20-footers."
This, as Mickelson says he’s too exhausted to really work on his game at all this week. He’s just showing up to the course, going through a light warmup, and hitting the course.
The Atlanta-to-Paris-to-Napa jaunt would be a test for any player, let alone a 48-year-old, who hinted to reporters after the round that he’ll likely be scaling back his Tour schedule in the near future.
Mickelson says he will cut back his schedule in 2019, given the struggle to maintain mental focus at age 48. He realizes some people will be upset when he skips events he has historically played— Ron Kroichick (@ronkroichick) October 5, 2018