British Open 2012: Royal Lytham Brings Phil Mickelson To His Knees

When you’re crawling around on your knees trying to find your golf ball in the deepest of deep rough, you can pretty much kiss your round goodbye. Phil Mickelson, who deployed a search-and-rescue mission to find his ball on the eighth hole, can certainly relate.

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It hasn’t been a comfortable start to Mickelson’s 2012 British Open Championship, what with three balls in the junk, an unplayable, a double-bogey and three bogeys for an outgoing 3-over-par 37. He found the nasty fescue for the first time on the third hole, and on the seventh, he and caddie Jim Mackay had an animated discussion about whether to take a drop and a penalty shot.

"I could be in here forever if I don’t take an unplayable," Mickelson said to his long-time bagman. "It’s possible it won’t come out ... I don’t want to hurt myself."

After Mackay ended up talking his man out of the drop, Mickelson skidded his next shot into the rough across the fairway. His result on what had been playing as the easiest hole on the course: double-bogey 7.

A fuming Mickelson then hit his tee shot from the eighth with an iron to the front of a pot bunker. His second shot carried the steep face of the sand but plugged in even juicier stuff atop the bunker. After much digging around, aided by an army of volunteers that included playing partner Luke Donald, Lefty finally found his ball embedded. He got no relief, however, since it was nowhere near the closely mown areas from which golfers may take drops without penalty.

A "good" bogey later, and it was on to the par-3 ninth, where Mickelson flew the green from the tee and ended up with yet another bogey. Mickelson finally made something happen on the 10th, when a birdie putt from just off the front of the green found the bottom of the cup.

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