The Loop

Phil Mickelson's first start at PGA National leaves him shaking his head

February 28, 2014

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. - Phil Mickelson waited a long time to make a short stay at this PGA Tour event in South Florida.

With the 10-year anniversary of his first of three Masters wins approaching, Mickelson hasn't quite found the kind of form in 2014 that facilitated his charge to the British Open title a year ago at Muirfield. Despite soft breezes and preferred lies from the fairways, Mickelson could manage no better than a one-over 71 Friday morning at PGA National, after shooting 70 Thursday. At day's end, Mickelson had missed the cut by one stroke at the Honda Classic.

"I had a hard time making birdies today," said the No. 5 player in the World Ranking, shaking his head. "I don't know what it was. When I hit a reasonable shot, I missed the putt, and, I don't know, I just had a hard time making birdies."

Mickelson completed 36 holes at the Champion Course in one-over 141 after converting just four birdies. He missed several good chances coming in, including a nine-foot birdie try at the eighth hole, his 17th of the day. He last missed a cut in July at The Greenbrier Classic.

Since winning the Open Championship, however, Mickelson has just one top 10, at The Barclays, last season's first playoff event. His 2014 starts include a withdrawal at the Farmers Insurance Open because of a back injury followed by finishes well off the pace in Phoenix and at Pebble Beach.

"I drove the ball well. I hit 75 percent of my fairways. That's a good thing for me," Mickelson pointed out. "I'm starting to drive the ball well.  What I normally do well on my iron play, distance control, was off. It just wasn't sharp, and I didn't putt as well as I had expected. I didn't putt bad but I didn't putt great."

The Honda Classic had not been on Mickelson's schedule since 2002 when it was held at TPC Heron Bay, and he was playing in the event for just the third time. He wasn't sure what he was going to do to busy himself this weekend; he remained committed to playing in the popular Pro-Member at nearby Seminole Golf Club on Monday before heading to Miami for the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Trump National Doral.

(Getty Images photo)