Evidently, Phil Mickelson doesn’t need practice rounds to show how good he can be at The Players Championship at Sawgrass Country Club.
When Mickelson began his round on Thursday, the first for The Players Championship, it was his first look at the course. He did not use practice rounds earlier in the week to prepare him for this week in Ponte Vedra, Florida.
As he told golfweek.com, He’d planned to play Tuesday but was a little tired after a Monday outing at Quail Hollow in Charlotte. Wednesday, he considered playing some holes, but with the searing heat hovering at 90, he thought better, choosing to conserve energy. So, he hit balls on the back of the revamped practice area and went home to rest.”
It looks like the decision to stay indoors and wait for the cooler air of Thursday morning paid off.
I had the chance to follow Phil Mickelson for most of the back nine of the course. He remains one of the most popular players on the tour. Much of the morning crowds followed him with his Jordan Spieth and Hideki Matsuyama. Every swing, every putt, every smile. Fans hung on his every move. The 46-year-old has five majors to his credit. Along with a 2007 win at The Players Championship here in North Florida. Finishing the day at 2-under, three strokes off the lead at the time he finished puts him in good standing. While Mickelson had the good fortune of cooler weather in the early morning, tomorrow his pairing goes off in the afternoon where the sun will blanket them like a very warm coat.
“It was a good day. I played well and made a lot of birdies and it was a fun day,” Mickelson told the media after his round. “It’s also a course though that it is going to, you’re going to make a lot of bogeys and doubles, unfortunately, I did that today, too, but the way the changes have come out, it is — first of all, I really like it, but second, it’s faster and firmer and the misses are magnified and it’s very difficult to get up-and-down around the greens.
“So, we’re going to see a lot more bogeys and doubles and I certainly did a lot of that.”
The weather conditions here at The Players Championship may not change much. Being that, the expected weather is to be dry and hot for most the weekend.
Playing this course is different for each golfer. Mickelson said the course – each hole – offers multiple opportunities of how to play the hole. It also offers multiple clubs off the tees. It still did not affect how he played for the first round.
“I think a lot of it is just how you feel at the time, what kind of shot you feel like, how the wind is, and there’s probably two or three clubs you could hit off of every single hole. Strategically, you just have to go with what feels more comfortable.”
There was very little wind in the morning and a trickle in the air in the afternoon. Those factors may come into play with Mickelson and his approach to the second round.
Phil Mickelson said he has been playing here for 25 years. So missing a practice round wasn’t going to make a difference. Evidently, it didn’t.