When a world class golfer loses the mental part of the game, his physical skills often nose-dive with it.
Phil Mickelson has been around long enough to know when to cut his losses, and on Thursday at the Memorial, he did just that.
Mickelson shot an opening-round 79 and then promptly withdrew from the tournament citing mental fatigue and the need to rest up for the U.S. Open in two weeks.
“The course here is in such great shape. It’s a beautiful way to get ready for the U.S. Open,” Mickelson said. “But I’m hitting it so poorly that ... I have to look at what’s best for me to play in the U.S. Open, and I’m going to take the next few days to kind of rest up.”
Mickelson had played three straight weeks — Quail Hollow, The Players Championship and the Byron Nelson Championship — before traveling to France and Italy to celebrate his wife’s 40th birthday. His first-round score was his worst in 13 visits to the Memorial, and he felt his head wasn’t in the game.
He was even par through the 11th hole but played 7-over the rest of the day to finish 13 strokes behind leader Scott Stallings.
“I feel like it’s the responsibility of a player to see through your commitment and finish the tournament and so forth,” Mickelson said. “And I’m kind of overruling that just a touch, because I’m trying to think big picture on what’s the best way for me to get ready for the Open.”
Should Phil have stuck it out, or was this a shrewd move that could give him an edged heading into the Open?