Coming off a tough opening round, Phil Mickelson arrived at Congressional Country Club early Friday morning, working with his coach Butch Harmon at the driving range in an effort to iron out whatever wrinkles might have contributed to his 3-over 74.
“I don’t normally play four days perfectly. This was my bad round,” he’d said Thursday evening. “Hopefully I’ll get it turned around.”
He was scheduled to tee off at 7:55 in a group that includes first-round leader Rory McIlroy.
Ever the optimist, Mickelson walked off the course Thursday evening nine shots off the lead -- he called his round “horrific” -- yet comfortable with his chances of challenging in the tournament.
“I’m still in it where if I get this thing turned around, I can shoot a good round [Friday] and get back in it,” he said.
He knows there’s a lot of room for improvement -- in just about all aspects of his game -- which is why he and Harmon hit the range before 7 a.m. Friday. In the opening round, Mickelson hit only five of 14 fairways and only eight of 18 greens in regulation. He averaged 1.5 putts per hold.
“A little change here or there though and I’ll come out [Friday] playing a little bit freer, a little bit more aggressive,” said Mickelson, who has five second-place finishes in the U.S. Open and zero wins. “A lot of times this happens for me when I take a week off before a major. I come out, play tight and swing tentative. I hit it horrific today and somehow got three-over, which I will gladly take.”
The safe guess is, he’d probably be happier with a better second-round score, though.