Phil Mickelson, who shot a 2-over 72 Friday at Firestone, conceded he was not all there during Thursday’s opening round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
After a dramatic victory at Muirfield in Scotland, followed by the now-standard post-major media whirl in New York, the newly crowned British Open winner struggled to maintain his focus in his first competitive round since capturing the Claret Jug. The five-time major titleholder will head into the second round of the limited-field, no-cut tune-up for next week’s PGA Championship eight strokes shy of Webb Simpson’s lead.
Lefty’s problem was more mental than physical and Mickelson believed he would get it together well before the final major of the men’s 2013 season.
"I could tell I was a little bit tired or I just wasn't able to see the shot clearly," Mickelson told reporters after his round. "I wasn't able to see the putt roll clearly. I had trouble seeing the shot chipping, and I just had a hard time mentally visualizing and seeing the shot today."
The popular 43-year-old got off to a solid start, draining a birdie putt from some 30 feet on the third hole. A few lip-outs, five bogeys, and 31 putts later, Phil was done for the day. Reaching only eight fairways and 11 greens in regulation did not help his cause, though Mickelson contended he was not worried about the result.
"I certainly didn't want to shoot over par and leave myself this far back after the first day," Mickelson said. "But my game feels sharp. I feel like I'm rolling the ball well. I know I'm swinging the [club] well, and tomorrow if I can just mentally see it a little clearer, I should have a good day."
A good night’s sleep was all he needed, said the owner of 42 PGA Tour wins.
"My swing and game still feels very sharp," he said. "I just need to get a little bit of rest tonight and see if I can come out tomorrow a little bit more focused and start to see a little bit clearer what I'm trying to do."