Mickelson puts together a great round in front of a loving crowd
Paramus, NJ- Few golfers are as magnanimous or likable as Phil Mickelson. From his demeanor and performance on the course, to funny commercials, to charmingly awful dance moves, Mickelson has carved out a special niche for himself in the golf world. He’s won the ninth most PGA events in Tour history and has five majors. Despite all the success, he still maintains a humble attitude about the game. His attitude makes him among the most liked and popular golfers and athletes in the sports world. That skill and charm were on offer in the first two rounds of the Northern Trust.
Partly bumped by his announcement of a one-on-one match with Tiger Woods in Las Vegas in late November, and a brand new Twitter account, Mickelson drew a large crowd for his opening round on Thursday afternoon. Phil started with two birdies in four holes, but cooled off with two bogeys to close the front nine. He then entertained with three birdies and no bogeys on the back nine. He closed the round by hitting a drive into the trees on 18. When he walked up to the ball and gathered crowd, he asked “What’s up guys?” and got a rise out of the crowd. He then set up and fired the ball to within 13′ of the hole. Mickelson birdied and finished a -3, despite a 21.43% driving accuracy rate.
Early the next morning, Phil teed off with his group of Patrick Reed and Tony Finau, and jumped off the blocks. He birdied his first four holes and five of his first six. Phil added a birdie to climb to -8 and held the lead. Then his drives betrayed him and unlike Thursday, he could not avoid paying for mistakes. The quips were still there, but accuracy was not. Mickelson missed the fairway on three of his final four holes. He got up and down on the fifth hole (his group started on 9 and finished on 8), but poor drives on 7 and 8 doomed him to two bogeys and a -6 for the tournament. A quality round, with a chance to win. But he left scoring chances on the table, despite an improved driving success rate, 64.27%.
Still, Phil maintained optimism about his prospects. “I look at the good. I look at it as though I know I’m getting better each day, and even though I didn’t finish the way I wanted to, it was a good day to put me in contention heading into the weekend.”
He maintained a calm demeanor around the fans, and the gallery gave him loud ovations and praise. Phil has responded with either gracious head-nods, or jokes back, or in many cases, initiates the quippy comments. Through the enjoyable interaction, he has performed well. Not perfectly, but well. And a determined Phil is a threat to win. He will be a player to watch the remainder of The Northern Trust and the FedEx Cup Playoffs.