A new year, the same vintage Phil Mickelson – epic comebacks and head-scratching blunders.
So it was Sunday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship that Mickelson (69) found himself with a chance to win in his season opener, only to squander the opportunity when he took a triple-bogey 7 on the 13th hole. After a late rally he finished in a tie for second, one shot behind surprise winner Pablo Larrazabal (67).
For Mickelson, it all came back to the 13th hole. His tee shot on the par 4 came to rest in the bushes and he had no stance as a left-hander. Instead of taking a drop, he turned around to the right side, flipped over the club and attempted to swipe the ball out that way -- a sequence that conjured up memories of the 2012 Masters. Alas, much like that major moment, his recovery shot backfired, as the ball clipped the hosel on its way through, and after a penalty he wound up with a triple bogey.
“It never crossed my mind it might double-hit,” Mickelson told reporters afterward. “I was just trying to dribble it out of the bush, to move it about 10 feet and I felt it was worth the risk. I wanted to use a lob wedge but had to turn around a 4-iron as I was having trouble seeing the club at address.
“My second option, to take the ball and go back as far as I want in line with the pin, didn’t give me a shot. It was just bushes extending all the way back and I wouldn’t have had a shot except to go back to the tee box.
“I got refocused and made some birdies and gave myself a chance.”
Mickelson did well to give himself a chance from there, carding birdies on Nos. 14 and 16, but he couldn’t convert his 50-foot eagle attempt on the final green.
Now, Mickelson will head back home to San Diego for the Farmers Insurance Open, his first start in the new wraparound 2013-14 season. He has won at Torrey Pines three times, though not since 2001.