NAPA, Calif. – Phil Mickelson found reason to be optimistic even after opening his new season in disastrous fashion.
Mickelson was only a few holes into his first competitive round in more than a month when he peeled two straight approach shots out of bounds on the par-5 fifth hole at the Safeway Open, leading to a quadruple-bogey 9. The blunders came on a hole where Mickelson made triple bogey during last year’s final round at Silverado Resort & Spa, and they proved to be a big reason why he’s near the bottom of the early leaderboard following a 3-over 75.
“I tried to carve, kind of cut a 5 (iron) and then ultimately a 6-iron out of the rough, and the ball just kind of shot left off the face out of bounds. And it happened twice,” Mickelson said. “So that hole has bitten me.”
Mickelson made just three birdies on the day, the last coming when he curled in a 23-foot putt on the 18th green to give the afternoon fans reason to cheer. But his tee-to-green game was just as wayward as it was during his underwhelming summer, as Lefty found just 3 of 14 fairways and hit only 11 greens in regulation.
Trailing co-leaders Adam Scott and Andrew Landry by 10 shots and in danger of missing the cut, Mickelson has plenty of work ahead of him on a course where he has finished no worse than T-17 in each of the last three years. But after speaking early in the week about a more optimistic attitude and sunnier disposition inside the ropes, Mickelson didn’t allow one bad round to alter his early-season outlook.
“If it were a few months ago, I would let it get to me a lot more than it did today,” Mickelson said. “I actually have a lot more confidence and energy and excitement to play, and my attitude’s just a lot better. So I’ll come out tomorrow, I’m going to shoot a good round. I’ll shoot 6, 7 under par tomorrow. I really believe that. I believe the game is close enough to do that.”