Phil Mickelson has a 'frustrating' first round at the U.S. Open

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 18, 2010; D06

PEBBLE BEACH, CALIF. -- Maybe Phil Mickelson could have figured out, by his fifth hole of the day, that Thursday's first round of the U.S. Open would not be his. There, on the difficult par-5 14th hole at Pebble Beach Golf Links, Mickelson -- who began his day on the 10th tee -- had a nice little five-footer for birdie. He missed it.

By the end of an opening 4-over-par 75, that theme repeated itself. Five times, Mickelson -- the second-ranked player in the world, the runner-up in five U.S. Opens -- had birdie putts of 10 feet or less. Five times, he missed. The result left him six strokes in back of the lead shared by Shaun Micheel, Paul Casey and Brendon de Jonge.

"I just putted horrific," Mickelson said. "It's very frustrating for me to miss all those opportunities. I don't mind making a bad swing here, there, making a bogey here, there. It's part of the U.S. Open.

"I thought going without any doubles was good. It's just I've got to make birdies. And when I missed those five-footers and that three-footer and a couple of 10-footers, it just was very frustrating for me."

The result was a birdie-less round for Mickelson, his first in three years.

Mickelson also had a couple of typical Mickelson moments. After making his first bogey of the day at the 16th, he one-hopped a 5-iron into the ocean left of the par-3 17th. He had to drop, and made his second straight bogey there.

Then, on the par-5 18th, Mickelson's tee shot was barely in the right rough, some 252 yards from the front edge of the green. He took out his 3-wood, tried to hook it into a right-to-left wind -- and hit it left, again toward the cliffs. Another drop, another bogey.

"It's just frustrating because I came in here prepared," Mickelson said. "I came in here ready."

A surreal trip

Rafael Cabrera-Bello, a 26-year-old Spaniard playing his first major, had perhaps the most interesting route to get here. He left his native Canary Islands for Madrid last Saturday, discovered his visa hadn't been approved, missed his flight, got word that he was clear to travel, stayed at a relative's until the next flight Sunday, and finally arrived at Pebble Beach on Monday -- without his clubs.

"You see the airline bag that says, 'This is the last bag out,' " Cabrera-Bello said, "and you're like, 'Oh.' "

US Airways left his bag in Philadelphia. So when he walked the course Monday to get a feel for it, he had to borrow a couple of wedges.

But he got in his two practice rounds, then was the first player off the 10th tee at 7 a.m. Thursday -- and made birdie.

For a time, he sat atop the leader board.

"I'm going, like, 'Okay, what's going on right here?' " Cabrera-Bello said. " 'What am I doing up there?' "

Early bogeys

When Lucas Glover won the 2009 Open at Bethpage Black, he began the tournament with a double bogey. Glover's start Thursday: bogey at 1, bogey at 2. "Giving two shots away early, I've been there before," he said. He ended up shooting 73 -- even par over his final 16 holes -- to keep himself in the game. . . .

Fairfax native Steve Marino's first Open round since 2007 was quite passable -- a 2-over 71 in which he hit 12 of 14 fairways. Marino, who teed off in the second group of the day at 7:11 a.m., began his tournament with a bogey and was 2 over after five holes. But he birdied the par-5 sixth and the par-4 10th to get back to even par before bogeys at 11 and the treacherous par-3 17th.

© 2010 The Washington Post Company