Phil Mickelson was all over the map, hitting only five fairways on his way to a 74. He hacked out of grass up his knees on one hole, and on another hit driver from under the trees to get back into play. "Lefty" was nine shots behind first-round leader Rory McIlroy, one of his playing companions.
Mickelson went way left on the par-4 14th with a 2-iron. He was good on the par-4 15th, but then he missed a 3-foot birdie putt. He went way right on the par-5 16th and gouged his second shot from the rough with his driver. He began the day off target, with a tee shot on the par-3 10th (his group started on the back nine) that ended up in the water. He made double-bogey 5 and never did get back to par for the round.
He rarely hit two good shots in a row. He fist-pumped caddie Bones Mackay after sinking a 25-foot birdie putt on the par-3 second hole, which made some fans think he was ready to take off. Then he hit his tee shot on the par-4 third way left.
"I'm still thinking 3 right now," he told Mackay, even before he reached the ball and found that he had a good lie. Fans left him a wide pathway to the green and encouraged him to hit from the awkward angle. "I've been here a bunch, man," he told them, smiling. Then he made another bogey.
"This actually turned out to be a great day because I played horrific," Mickelson told Newsday. "I started out hitting a good shot into the water, making double. And to hit where I did today and walk away only 3 over, I'm still in it. This could have been a day that (could) easily have been in the 80s, and somehow, I was able to get myself around and be only 3 over."
Hole of the day
No. 10: Par 3; stroke average of 3.26 on Thursday. Notable: An awkward 218-yarder over a lake with a horizontal green that leaves little margin for error. Phil Mickelson, who earlier this week proclaimed that "the average guy can't play that hole," started his round by putting his tee shot in the water and making double bogey. The hole produced 19 birdies and 44 bogeys and double-bogeys. Among the top 10 names on the leaderboard, only Y.E. Yang, left, and Ryan Palmer made birdies there.
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British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen shot 69, joining a group that included Sergio Garcia and Ryan Palmer, the lone American among the nine players who broke 70. Defending champion Graeme McDowell had a 70. The top three players in the world — Luke Donald (74), Lee Westwood (75) and Martin Kaymer (74) — combined to go 10-over par.
Not fun for local guy
St. Petersburg native Michael Barbosa, who was studying for the bar exam this time last year, shot 12-over 83. Teeing off on the 10th hole, the 28-year-old amateur bogeyed the first two holes, double-bogeyed the 12th, then had four more bogeys to shoot 44 halfway through. After shooting par on Nos. 1 and 2, he had another four bogeys. His highlight was a birdie on the par-4 No. 8.
With all that room?
On the longest hole on Congressional — the 636-yard No. 9 — the second shots hit by Graeme McDowell and Louis Oosthuizen ended up touching each other.
"Yeah, that's something that you probably will never see again," Oosthuizen said. "Graeme laid up with a hybrid, I laid up with a 3-iron, and we got to the balls and they were touching each other, lying next to each other. You know, on the green you see it now and then, but I've never seen it on the fairway."
McDowell moved his ball so that Oosthuizen could play first.
"Thankful he didn't remove a huge piece of turf," McDowell said. "I didn't know what I was going to do to recreate my lie if he had taken a huge divot. He picked it off the turf quite cleanly."
Information from the Associated Press and New York's Newsday was used in this report.