Springfield, N.J. — Phil Mickelson walked off the first green with a disgusted look on his face, as if he’d thrown away any shot at making the cut in the PGA Championship.
A 7 on the opening par-4 hole will do that to you.
“I think in the history of the PGA Championship, that’s the worst start of any player’s round,” Mickelson said. “I’d have to look that up.”
The five-time major winner set about steadying himself, writing the triple bogey on the scorecard and leaving it behind. With four birdies the rest of the way and only a slip-up on 16, Mickelson managed an even-par 70 to advance to the weekend.
“I was able to fight back and be patient from there on out, start to make a birdie here or there,” he said.
As usual, Lefty’s gallery was massive — he played with defending champion Jason Day, who is tied for third at 7-under, and Rory McIlroy, who bogeyed the relatively easy par-5 18th to miss the cut. Those thousands of fans were as stunned with the way Mickelson began as he was.
After a 1-over 71 on Thursday, he hit his drive so far left on No. 1 that its first bounce was on Shunpike Road. It appeared to hang a left on Baltusrol Drive, possibly on its way to the Hudson River.
Playing a provisional on the 478-yard hole, Mickelson messed up once more, the ball landing far from the fairway, nestling near a path. His next shot almost landed in the backyard of a home adjoining the golf course.
He needed two shots to reach the green, then, thankfully, he one-putted for a 7.
“Just a total mental block on that first hole,” he said. “And I don’t even know what to say. It was just horrific.
Mickelson began his comeback with a birdie on No. 3, got another on the 8th and one on No. 11. A bogey on the par-3 16th jeopardized his standing, but he made sure he would make the weekend with a birdie on the finishing hole.
“I’m having a difficult time right now managing my expectations, because I know how well I’m playing,and I’m so result oriented that I’m not playing very relaxed, free golf like I did at the British, like I did in the preparation here. Tomorrow, I’m going to try to go out and not worry about the score and just play a good round because I’ve been hitting a lot of good shots. I’m trying to force the issue because I know you’ve got to get hot out here.”
Unlike Mickelson, McIlroy couldn’t respond, though he came close. The two-time major champion came off an opening 74 and needed to post a good number to remain in the tournament. He made his first birdie of the tourney on No. 4 and birdied 6, but bogeyed the ninth. After a birdie on 11, he was in position to stick around, but he bogeyed 13.
Long drop for Spieth
Jordan Spieth shot a 67 Friday and is tied for 13th at 3 under.
His tee shot on the seventh hole went just beyond a pine tree onto a cart path, but because of so much rain, it was in a puddle. Spieth brought in PGA rules official Brad Gregory to get relief in a ruling that took nearly 10 minutes and so many drops that Spieth kept cleaning the ball with his glove instead of having his caddie wipe it off with a towel.
He wanted relief from the casual water, not the gravel cart path, because it kept an opening to the hole. Once the spot was determined where Spieth could play the shot he wanted, he had the option to play a different shot, even if his stance was still in casual water.
Gregory told him he was satisfied with the drop, so Spieth was good to go.
There was discussion on television, and after his round, that’s about all anyone wanted to ask him about.
“It was as complicated as I’ve ever really had it. Took about as much time as I’ve ever taken on a free drop,” Spieth said.
Ultimately, it was a good break that he let get away. His shot through a gap in the trees bounced over the green, and he was fooled by the thickness of the grass and left his chip some 20 feet short, missing the par save.
The hole wasn’t where it was supposed to be.
The second-round hole location sheet provided to the golfers for No. 10 listed the cup as being on the left side of the green when it was actually cut on the right side.
The PGA of America Rules Committee did not notice the hole had been cut in the incorrect location until after each member of the first group of the day had hit his second shot to the green.
The hole was played where the first group played it for the rest of the day.
PGA chief championships officer Kerry Haigh met with the players — Colt Knost, Joe Summerhays and Yuta Ikeda — after they signed their cards to offer an explanation and apologize. Summerhays parred the hole while the others bogeyed it.