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Devil Ball Golf

Phil Mickelson misses out on golden opportunity in Round 1

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For whatever reason, the Open Championship has never seemed to suit Phil Mickelson's game. Whether it's the fact that the ball has to be flighted or the quirky nuances of links-style courses, there's always been something about the Open that has kept him from getting in contention on a regular basis.

Over the last couple of years, Mickelson has seemingly shot himself out of the tournament early, usually going for broke when a simple game plan would suffice.

So on the eve of the Open Championship at Royal St. George's, Mickelson said he was going to change. He was wiping the slate clean and starting anew this year. And after an even-par opening round, it seemed like his new game plan was working.

With high winds, and scores, dominating the the morning groups, even-par would have been a fantastic round. The only problem was the winds disappeared during Mickelson's afternoon wave, leaving the course exposed and helpless.

It was the perfect conditions for Phil's go-for-broke style. However, even with the course primed for birdies, Mickelson couldn't capitalize, making only two on the day. Nobody's going to blame him for not shooting himself out of the tournament on the first day, but as Paul Azinger said during Thursday's telecast, you can't leave strokes on the course when Royal St. George's is playing as easy as it was.

Mickelson missed a number of short putts, and just looked like he was trying to keep things together for most of the round. He's certainly still in contention, which is a great sign, but as he knows, you need to make the most of benign conditions on links courses.

For at least one day, Mickelson couldn't capitalize on the conditions. Whether that comes back to bite him later in the week remains to be seen.

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