Phil Mickelson still isn’t sure whether he’s going to tee it up in next week’s Players Championship. A day after a rollercoaster four-under 68 at Bay Hill that included a bizarre right-handed encounter with an out-of-bounds fence, Mickelson struggled to a second-round 78 that put him on the edge of the cut line and had him feeling uncertain about his game and his schedule.
“I’m going to go play a practice round Tuesday, I’ll play nine and take a look and, I mean, I want to play it, so I would most likely — but if I hit it like this, it’s pointless, so I have to figure something out,” Mickelson said after his round.
He explained his reluctance to commit to the event as a combination of how he’s playing and of the course itself — and cited the Masters as a counter-example.
“When you go to Augusta, I feel like I don’t have to be perfect, and so I end up making better swings, I hit a lot more good shots and my misses are playable,” he said. “And then you get out here, and the fairways are tight, the rough is thicker, and then I start to steer it and I start to make some horrific swings. I haven’t hit some of the shots I hit today in a long time, but when I get a little steery and don’t swing, I try to guide it, I hit some terrible shots. The Players is a place you can make some steery swings.”
Mickelson’s Friday included three bogeys and two double bogeys against just a single birdie. He hit seven of 14 fairways, nine of 18 greens and lost over two strokes to the field on the greens.
“I look at it as, I’m going to play 20 events. So I want to play the ones that give me the best chance of winning. If I don’t play there next week I’ll add something else and if I do play there I’m going to take away something else. So I’m going to end up at 20, it’s just going to be how I feel like how my game feels, how it looks. If it’s softer, it’s a lot easier to play. So there’s a good — I mean if there’s some rain or it’s softer, I would expect I would play.”
Mickelson had previously said that the Players was “not a must-play” for him, despite the tournament’s status as one of golf’s premier events. “I’m 48 and I’ve played it 25 times and I’ve already won it. If I were young and early in my career, I would say yes because I think it’s as close to a major as it can get. But it’s not the best course for me.”