Phil Mickelson was a late arrival to Chicago for this week’s BMW Championship and his opening-round, 1-under 70 performance on a Conway Farms course on which he had never even practiced was not up to the standards of a golfer who’s been in the mix for player of the year honors.
"It wasn’t the way I wanted to prepare for an event," Mickelson told Reuters’ Mark Lamport-Stokes after Thursday’s opener that included three straight birdies down the stretch to get the British Open winner into red numbers. "I’ll have to get a little bit more aggressive. I think I was a little cautious today not knowing what to expect."
Mickelson, who got a pass from the PGA Tour to miss Wednesday’s pro-am because of an unspecified personal issue, blew into the Windy City the night ahead of Thursday’s opening round and did nothing to bolster his chances of winning his first player of the year award.
Lefty determined to attack the golf course more tenaciously on Friday and started his second round with a birdie on the 11th. But things went downhill and then leveled off, as Mickelson made three bogeys in his next three holes and made the turn to the front nine at 2-over 38.
"I started to hit some good shots, but I don't feel like I'm sharp," Mickelson said Thursday. "I don't feel like I'm prepared, and I'm going to have to kind of play my way into this tournament."
It would appear that Mickelson, ranked sixth in FedExCup points entering the week and projected to start next week’s Tour Championship, the fourth and final playoff game, in ninth place, was still waiting for his game to "kind of click," as he mentioned to Lamport-Stokes.
"I didn't play like I thought I was going to at [the] Deutsche Bank [Championship] after that final round at Barclays," he said, referring to his T41 finish at TPC Boston two weeks ago and his share of sixth place in the FEC opener at Liberty National. "And I didn't have a good practice session today, and it hasn't quite clicked."
After nine holes on Friday, Mickelson was 10 shots back of 18-hole leader Brandt Snedeker, whose blistering, 8-under 63, pack-leading pace had cooled off by the second round. Snedeker, the FedExCup defending champion, was 1-under through five -- six clear of a trio of golfers in the 70-player field -- in his second go-round on the Conway Farms layout.
Mickelson, thanks to his two tour wins in 2013, including his first-place finish in the Open Championship at Muirfield, has been in the running, with Tiger Woods (five wins on tour) and Adam Scott (Masters champ and winner at The Barclays), to earn the player of the year award.