Oh, Phil Mickelson. Will it ever be easy? The British Open champion had a chance to join McIlroy in the lead until it all went wrong. One shot behind with two holes to play, Mickelson hit two wedges into the water fronting the par-5 eighth green and took a quadruple-bogey 9. His second wedge landed some 30 feet beyond the pin and had so much spin that it raced off the green and down the bank into the water.
He hit another shot into the water on No. 9, and followed that with a shot to 2 feet to escape with only a bogey. He fell back to a 71. But this day ultimately was about McIlroy, who started the season at No. 1 in the world and fell into a slump that has lasted longer than usual. He started the week with his first win of the year – OK, it was an 18-hole exhibition against Tiger Woods – though he carried that form to Sheshan International.
"It's obviously different playing in an environment like that and coming out here trying to win this golf tournament, even though I did hold off Tiger Woods down the stretch," McIlroy said, laughing at the mock importance he placed on that exhibition.