Phil Mickelson’s first round at 3M Open derailed by numerous penalties

Is there such a thing as a “good 74” on the PGA Tour? If you consider the fact that Phil Mickelson matched that number on Thursday after hitting four balls in the water, the round actually doesn’t sound too bad.

Poor Lefty has missed three cuts in his last five starts (and the two finishes in between weren’t great: T-71 at the PGA Championship, and T-52 at the U.S. Open) and was hoping to pick up some momentum at this week’s 3M Open in Blaine, Minn. Unfortunately, he’s already dug himself a substantial hole after just one round.

Mickelson started on the 10th hole, and parred the first two holes, then birdied the 12th. One under through three — so far so good! A wayward approach led to a bogey on No. 13, but Mickelson quickly recovered by sticking it to two feet on the par-4 14th to get back to 1 under.

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Three more pars followed on Nos. 15, 16 and 17, but a disaster struck on No. 18. Mickelson hit his drive into the water, and had to drop back in front of the hazard. He then hit his next shot (his third) in the water again. Ugh, that’s two penalty strokes right there. He then played his fifth shot from the same spot, but took a safe line to the left of the green. His sixth shot finally found the green, and he two-putted from there for a triple-bogey 8. Ouch.

The front nine (his second nine) went much the same way: A par on No. 1, another water-ball bogey on 2, then five pars in a row. A birdie on the par-3 8th brought him back to 2 over par on the day, but yet another water ball on No. 9 led to a bogey, and a final card of 3-over 74.

By our count of the Shot Tracker data, Mickelson suffered four total penalty shots (all via water balls), but in his post-round comments to the media, Phil saw it differently.

“Oh, my goodness. You know, I had seven penalty strokes. You can’t do that and compete,” Mickelson said. “It’s frustrating because I felt like I was playing well, making some good swings.”

Four shots, seven shots, what does it really matter anyway, right? At the end of the day, Phil will need a super-solid round on Friday to make sure he’ll still be playing this weekend.

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