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Mickelson Needs to Go Low Friday to Make Weekend
After opening with a 74 that could have been even worse, three-time Masters' champion Phil Mickelson needs for his game to get quickly in order in order to make the weekend cut and have a chance at donning a fourth green jacket.
The 41-year-old's travails Thursday came to a head on the par-4 10th hole when he drove his tee shot so far into the underbrush it couldn't be found. Television cameras documented the scene as Mickelson, caddie Jim McKay, officials and gallery members strode through the scrub to no avail. It looked like a bunch of chickens trying to find kernels of corn.
But there was no reward for the searchers, causing Mickelson to play his provisional and go on to post a triple-bogey. Mickelson said later that he'd never lost a ball - other than in a water hazard - in all his years playing Augusta National, and he didn't know the area where he deposited his drive even existed.
But Lefty rallied; thanks to birdies on two of his last four holes, he posted a 2-over 74. "I made a lot of mistakes but I'm only 2-over," he said Thursday night. "If I can get a good hot round tomorrow I can shoot myself into the weekend."
Here's what else Mickelson had to tell reporters about his opening round.
Q. You were grinding along in the front nine and you got to 10. Tell us what happened on that tee shot. How do you deal with the frustration after that?
PHIL MICKELSON: I thought that, you know, throughout the round on the front nine, I hit three or four shots in spots I missed it where I know I can't miss it. And strategically made some mistakes. I made some execution mistakes and then I made a very poor swing on 10. I knew walking off 1 green at 4 over I wasn't going to get them all back before the round was through. But if I could just get a couple back, I felt like I could get some back on the falling day. So the key was getting through 11 and 12 and some pars, taking advantage of the par 5s. I got two of them back coming in, so as poorly as I played and some of the poor shots I hit and the mishaps, missing on the wrong spot, I'm right there.
And with a hot round tomorrow, I'll get right back in it for the weekend. I know that heading in I've been playing well. So I'm going to fire at it tomorrow and see if I can do that.
Q. You are a big sportsman. Kansas in the semifinal hit as basket right before halftime -
PHIL MICKELSON: Honestly, basketball is the last thing on my mind. I'm getting ready for tomorrow's round. That birdie on 18 was a big momentum birdie for me because I can get out here and birdie 1, 2 or 3 and I'm right back at even par. Then I start trying to catch the leaders. That's kind of the game plan right now.
Q. They go the other way on the course setup today? Did they purposely make it harder because they were concerned it was so soft or -
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know. I thought that because of soft conditions however, we had mud on every shot. That was a huge factor. I had mud on the left side of my ball on 11. So I just came off a quad or a triple and I'm 4 over and I have to aim at 12 green, 12 tee, 35 yards right and the ball shot left and came within a yard of going in the water there. That made it challenging plus the wet conditions made some lies in the fairway extremely tight and difficult for me. So it wasn't as though it was a free for all. You still had to be careful a lot of shots.
Q. Did you have any trouble with the driver, Phil, before 18 tee?
PHIL MICKELSON: No. It just one of the weights came lose. Fortunately you can just tighten it up. It was no big deal.
Q. As well as you've been hitting it, as good as you've felt about your game, what was the deal with the driver today?
PHIL MICKELSON: I had a slight technical mishap where I get a little narrow on the downswing and it cause it is block. If I just stay wide I get a lot more speed like 18. When I go after it, I get wider. I hit it harder and I hit it straighter. When I try to steer it, I get narrow and I hit the big slice. So I'll be going after it tomorrow.
Q. Did you lose focus when you are in the foliage there on 10 and everyone is searching for the ball? Is it kind of a hectic scene there?
PHIL MICKELSON: Honestly I don't know. I mean, that's the furthest thing from my mind. I have got to get back on trying to make birdies tomorrow. And I feel fortunate that I'm in a position where I can get two of the first three and get right back to even. And I had to fight pretty hard to get that.
Q. You talk about how much you love the Masters. You have the last tee time yet you were out here first thing this morning to watch Arnie and Jack and Gary tee off. What did that mean to you to see that?
PHIL MICKELSON: I've been here 20 plus years. I've been wanting to do that every year and this worked out great because I had the last tee time. I came out and was able to watch them tee off, have breakfast with Butch and a little practice session shortly after, plenty of time to go home, take a nap and get ready for the round.
I think that it's an experience that I really enjoyed watching those guys hit it, what they have meant to the game of golf. I mean, they are the big three and they have brought the game to where it is. Anybody who has a chance to come to the Masters, it's worth getting up early to go watch those guys tee off. They are just charismatic and they are what this game is all about.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.