Unlucky 13th devours Mickelson
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LA JOLLA, Calif. – That vivid dream of winning a U.S. Open title on his hometown course turned into a colossal nightmare for Phil Mickelson.
Mickelson collapsed in a big way on the par-5 13th hole Saturday, shooting quadruple-bogey 9 to fall way behind the leaders during a 5-over-par 76 third round that has him sitting at 9-over 222.
“I’m certainly disappointed that I’m not in the mix right now,” Mickelson said. “That was the goal. So I’m going to come out (Sunday) and enjoy my final round.”
Mickelson needs a telescope to spot the leaders at Torrey Pines Golf Course – Tiger Woods, at 3-under-par 210, leads after three rounds.
“This is something I wanted a lot,” said Mickelson, “and I just didn’t play well this week.”
The Rancho Santa Fe resident needed a strong third round to have any shot of being in contention on Sunday. He was having a relatively nondescript round until disaster struck on the 539-yard 13th hole.
Mickelson’s tee shot landed in the left-side rough and he laid his second shot up onto the fairway about 80 yards from the hole. His third shot narrowly made it to the front of the green but not far enough to keep it from rolling back down the steep slope in front of the green.
The same thing happened on each of Mickelson’s next two attempts. He lofted his ball toward the green, but it didn’t clear the slope and rolled slowly back toward him.
Finally, Mickelson chipped his ball well back on to the green. He then three-putted to end the meltdown that ensures he will remain winless in 18 U.S. Open appearances.
Mickelson might have suffered through a lost hole, but the San Diego native showed that he hadn’t lost his sense of humor when asked if it was the first time he had ever shot 9 on that hole.
“No, I’ve had a nine on 13,” Mickelson said. “I was 8 years old, but I have had a nine there.”
Adding insult to the quadruple bogey is that Mickelson felt the hole was one of the easiest on the course to birdie.
“Certainly I’m just trying to get it in the hole and move on, because that’s a birdie hole,” Mickelson said. “I played it 4 over, but I really cost myself five shots because most of the players who are amongst the leaders are going to be 1 under on that hole. They’re going to birdie it.”
Mickelson used a driver off the tee a couple times on Saturday, his first use of the club during the U.S. Open. He used a 3-wood and hybrid club off the tees the first two rounds.
But his inability to hit fairways continued. He hit just 42.9 percent of the fairways over the first 36 holes – only two of the 80 golfers who made the cut had a poorer percentage the first two days – and then had the same percentage Saturday, hitting just six of 14 fairways.
Those failures to hit fairways represented a major problem for Mickelson.
By using mostly 3-woods and hybrid clubs off the tees, he was sacrificing distance for the sake of accuracy and was getting neither.
“I needed to try to make some birdies and get a few shorter irons in, being that I was 4 over,” said Mickelson, explaining why the driver was in his bag Saturday. “And I started out hitting some decent drives, but on the back nine I missed some fairways, and that was costly.”
Mickelson closed the round with a birdie on 18, meaning he was just 1 over for the other 17 holes not named No. 13. But there are no mulligan holes allowed at the U.S. Open.
“What can you do?” Mickelson said. “It was really one hole that hurt the round. Otherwise I was what – 1 over for the day and just played OK. So it wasn’t bad. If I make birdie there, I shoot even par for the day and I would be within striking distance for (Sunday).
“Unfortunately, it happens. It sucks, but it happens.”