PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Fifteen of his 34 victories have come during the West Coast swing, but the fact Phil Mickelson has failed to break 70 this year does not mean it’s time for him to panic just yet.
Even so, Mickelson only has two tournaments left – the Northern Trust Open and the Accenture Match Play Championship – to avoid leaving the West Coast without a single top 10 for the first time in his 17 years on the PGA Tour.
“It’s been more challenging this year, for whatever reason,” Mickelson said after he made a daring birdie on the 18th hole at Pebble Beach to make the cut on the number. He wound up tied for 55th when the final round was rained out.
Mickelson struggled with his driver at the FBR Open and missed the cut. He didn’t hole enough putts at Torrey Pines and tied for 42nd in the Buick Invitational. And whatever progress he was making at Pebble Beach was halted with one bad swing.
Lefty birdied his first three holes and was 3 under for the tournament until he hooked a 5-iron with a left-to-right wind. The ball hit a cart path and went out of bounds, leading to triple bogey. It was his second OB in as many days – on the other one, he salvaged a bogey on a par 5 at Poppy Hills.
“I’m making dumb mistakes, a couple of squirrelly shots, I haven’t putted the best,” Mickelson said.
Lefty has won on the West Coast seven of the last nine years, and he has had at least two top 10s on the West Coast during that stretch. The two years he won the Masters (2004, 2006), he had at least four top 10s in California and Arizona.
Mickelson is coming up on the two-year anniversary of when he began working with Butch Harmon, and while he lost the summer of ’07 due to a wrist injury, there remains speculation that his two-coach system isn’t best for his game.
Dave Pelz works with his short game and supplies more statistics than most golfers can digest. The long game belongs to Harmon, who is built more toward feel.
Mickelson has been around too long to worry over a ragged start, although he is starting to grind. In the hour before Sunday’s round at Pebble Beach was suspended because of rain, Mickelson was a lone figure on the range as he went through five buckets of balls.