Lefty can’t get it right in opening round of PGA Championship

  • By SAMANTHA PELL
  • Friday, July 29, 2016 1:02am
  • Sports

SPRINGFIELD, N.J. — Phil Mickelson won the PGA Championship the last time it was at Baltusrol in 2005. He played some of his best golf ever only 11 days ago at the British Open . And on Thursday, the New York area crowd had his back even before he teed off.

The momentum he had to start the PGA Championship was there.

Until it wasn’t.

Stepping onto the 10th tee for his opening shot on Thursday, the cheers and shouts for Mickelson went on for so long that the two other golfers with him — defending champion Jason Day and two-time PGA Champion Rory McIlroy — didn’t seem to exist.

But the cheers didn’t last long.

Mickelson’s first shot of the day sailed well left into the gallery. He hit into a bunker, blasted out to about 5 feet and missed the putt. It was the first of four bogeys in his opening 11 holes. He wasn’t driving very well. He wasn’t putting much better. Despite the frustrating start, the 46-year-old rallied for a 1-over 71 with three birdies over his last seven holes.

“It’s not the start I wanted,” Mickelson said. “It’s not indicative of how I’m playing. But I’m back to where tomorrow, if I play the way I’ve been playing, I should be OK.”

Mickelson, in a bright pink shirt, turned it around with a birdie on the tough 503-yard third hole.

“That was a big birdie,” Mickelson said. “I hit two really good shots. If I miss that fairway, I probably have to lay up and fight for par again. Instead I hit a really good drive, a good 8-iron to 15, 18 feet behind the hole and made it. That kind of got things going.”

Mickelson is coming off one of the best tournaments he’s ever played — a 63 in the first round, a 65 in the final round at Royal Troon — and still lost by three to Henrik Stenson, who had the lowest score in major championship history.

Mickelson finished second for the 11th time in his career in a major.

“Unfortunately, I didn’t get off to a great start (at Baltusrol), like I did at the British,” Mickelson said. “It’s always easier. You shoot a good low number the first day, you’ve got momentum.”

Mickelson had three bogeys starting in the featured morning group along with McIlroy and Day. He still was only 2 over going to the 17th and 18th, both par 5s, a chance for him to get back to even par. Instead, he kept going the wrong direction.

He missed his drive so far right on the 17th that it landed just off the 15th tee box. Instead of having the gallery around the 15th tee and the gallery lining the 17th fairway move out of the way, he hit a wedge over them into deep rough. His third shot was over the green and he had to make a 7-foot putt just for par.

When Mickelson got in deep rough on the 18th, he tried to hit with fairway metal, but it squirted out and only the deep rough kept it from going in the water. He pulled his next shot into the gallery, chipped it to about 10 feet and missed. On the easiest hole at Baltusrol, Mickelson made bogey.

Mickelson said the 18th was the “really only good birdie hole” on the course.

“Just lost focus,” Mickelson said. “Just antsy, little jumpy, just lost the rhythm and made some terrible swings. There’s no real answer.”

While Mickelson got off to a subpar beginning, he said the crowd support was what really carried him along.

There wasn’t an empty seat in the bleachers on the 10th tee when Mickelson arrived just before his 8:30 a.m. start, they cheered wildly for him. When he hit his tee shot into the gallery, Mickelson walked up to them and said, “Good morning, guys,” and about 100 of them returned the greeting.

Mickelson said of all the support the people in New Jersey and New York have given him over the years, “today was the day that it helped the most.”

“I remember walking off of No. 3 and a guy said, ‘Hey, you’ve got a lot of golf left, you’re not out of this, let’s get going,’” Mickelson said. “He’s right. Got a lot of golf left. I came back and made some birdies.”

More in Sports

Trout Unlimited's Matt Boline holds a container with coho fry for official documentation of anadromous fish use in an unnamed creek in the vicinity of Juneau. (Photo by Jeff Lund)
I Went to the Woods: Survey says…

Our floatplane cleared the notch in the snowy ridge then turned slightly… Continue reading

Juneau’s PJ Foy, shown winning the 2023 100 yard butterfly in 48.27 for Thunder Mountain High School during the ASAA state championships at the Dimond Park Aquatics Center on Nov. 4, 2023, qualified for the 2024 June Olympic Team Trials by swimming a 100 long course meters butterfly in a personal best 53.44 on March 16, 2024, at the Speedo Sectionals in Federal Way, Washington. (Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire file photo)
Alaskans secure spots at 2024 Olympics; Juneau swimmer PJ Foy will try for his spot on Friday

TMHS graduate seeking to qualify in 100-meter butterfly at U.S. Olympic Team Trials.

At least one female wood duck has invented a novel feeding technique. (Photo by Bob Armstrong)
On the Trails: Wood ducks, redstarts, yellowlegs and flowers

Mid-June, and a few days ago we saw a wood duck with… Continue reading

Competitors in the AlaskAcross 2024 race prepare to depart from Eagle Summit at 10 a.m. on June 8, 2024. From left are Bruno Grunau, Mark Ross, Forest Wagner, Mike Fisher, Sarah Hurkett, Clinton Brown, Tracie Curry and Curtis Henry. (Photo by Ned Rozell)
Alaska Science Forum: Journey through a sub-Arctic summer night

“You guys are the result of thousands of years of selection,” Fran… Continue reading

Barn swallows firmly attach their nests to walls, so they support the weight of nestlings and visiting adults.  (Photo by Bob Amrstrong)
On the Trails: Spring to summer

Spring temperatures were cool this year, but the lengthening days gave birds… Continue reading

In the spirit of Dolly Parton’s country music roots, race participant Mendenhall River Community School Principal Eric Filardi runs in costume with young Lucy Vogel wearing heart-shaped sunglasses as they enjoy the sunny Saturday weather on the Airport Dike Trail race course. About 85 runners participated, many wearing pearls and pink hats provided at the starting tent. (Laurie Craig / Juneau Empire)
Busting out the pink and pearls at the first Dolly Dash

Dolly Parton-inspired fun run raises funds for free books for kids.

A cruise ship makes its way through early morning fog last summer. The passengers who have been arriving lately have not been experiencing similar tranquility. (Photo by Jeff Lund)
I Went to the Woods: Racing the weather

Daylight is unstoppable this time of year. Not like up in the… Continue reading

People often use sea ice, as seen here off Alaska’s northern coast outside the town of Utqiagvik, for travelling. (Photo by Ned Rozell)
Alaska Science Forum: Did sea ice help populate the Americas?

Human footprints preserved in mud at White Sands National Park in New… Continue reading

Brown-headed cowbirds are professional egg-dumpers, always parasitizing the nests of other species. (CC BY 2.0 public domain photo).
On the Trails: Egg dumping behavior

Egg-dumping refers to the behavior of a female who puts her eggs… Continue reading

Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé’s Landon Simonson is greeted at home after hitting a grand slam on Friday during the Division I Alaska School Activities Association Baseball State Championships in Anchorage. (Stephanie Burgoon/Alaska Sports Report)
JDHS baseball, TMHS softball teams make it to final day of state tournaments

Crimson Bears play for consolation title after grand slam win Friday; Falcons still in title hunt

Members of the Thunder Mountain High School softball team pose for a shot following their 18-0 victory against North Pole High School on Friday during the Division II Alaska School Activities Association Softball State Championships in Fairbanks. (Thunder Mountain Softball photo)
Final flight of the TMHS Falcons ends with 6-4 loss on final day of state softball tournament

“It’s been a fun ride,” coach says as team wins conference title, goes 29-12 during its final season.

Juneau’s Nate Fick leaps to make a catch while another Eagle River run scores during the opening game Thursday of the Division I Alaska School Activities Association Baseball State Championships. (Stephanie Burgoon/Alaska Sports Report)
Crimson Bears finish sixth at state baseball tournament, coach calls season promising for young team

JDHS loses to Chugiak in consolation finale; scenarios for next season expand due to TMHS merger.