Ponte Vedra Beach - Phil Mickelson was all dressed up for
his first PGA Tour pairing with Tiger Woods in five years, wearing a
long-sleeved, button-down shirt in 85-degree heat.
He might be hesitant to put it on again.
Mickelson shot a 7-over 79 in the opening round at the
Players Championship on Thursday, his worst score at TPC Sawgrass since 2000.
Woods (72) wasn't a whole lot better on a day when 68 guys were under par.
The mega pairing turned out to be a mega dud.
Mickelson and Woods, along with Rickie Fowler (74), drew
huge crowds as the featured group at the Stadium Course. Their golf didn't
match the hype.
The threesome delivered so few highlights that Mickelson's
shirt was the talk of the town for much of the afternoon.
"I actually really like it," said Mickelson, who
is brand ambassador and equity holder in the menswear brand Mizzen and Main.
"I think nobody does kind of slightly overweight, middle-aged guy better
than me, and this says exactly who I am. I don't know what to say. I'm really
happy with it."
Those in the galleries had mixed reviews.
"He must have a meeting after this," one fan said
at the famed 17th hole. "Yeah, at a used car lot," added another.
He got a lot of "love the sleeves" and "love
the button-down" during the round. Some of those seemed a little
Regardless, the real problem was his play.
Mickelson hit two balls in the water and found eight
bunkers, poor shots that made scoring tough. He said the bigger issue was a
lack of energy.
"I knew it was going to be a concern this week,"
said Mickelson, who finished tied for fifth last week at the Wells Fargo
Championship. "I knew that I was going to have issues late in the day. I
tried to offset it this week by taking it easy, not doing too much, and tried
to eat right, tried to do all the right things to hopefully not have it be an
"But I was concerned that that was going to be the
case, and it was."
Mickelson really struggled on the back nine, shooting 7 over
during a four-hole stretch.
"I just kind of ran out at the end," he said.
"I had a lot of fun, enjoyed being with the guys. I just had a poor
finish, 7-over the last five. That's the day."
It might be his tournament, too.
Barring a significant turnaround on Friday, Lefty will miss
the cut at the Players for the fifth time in the last six years.
Woods is in much better shape thanks to an eagle on the
par-5 ninth, two par saves on the back and a bogey that could have been worse
at No 18.
Woods reached the par-5 ninth, which was playing downwind,
in two and made a 20-footer that got him back to even at the turn.
"Boy, it was nice to turn the round completely around
there," he said.
Woods made an 8-footer to save par at No. 10 and a 15-footer
at the 14th. He knew the one on the No. 14 was good, delivering his classic
fist pump as the ball neared the hole.
His final putt was equally clutch. After hooking an iron off
the tee into the water, Woods took a penalty drop and flew the green from 270
yards out. His chip came up short, but he drained a 10-footer to end the day at
"I knew I was going to drop a shot, but didn't want to
shoot an over-par round," Woods said. "I was playing better than
that. So it was nice to make that putt."
Woods said the warm temperatures caused balls to carry
longer than he expected, often leaving him on the wrong side of pins.
Playing with Mickelson had fans craning for views and
snapping pictures all afternoon. Well, most of the afternoon anyway.
The massive crowd thinned out on the back nine before
picking back up at 16, 17 and 18 - the most raucous holes at the Stadium
"They were into it early," Woods said.
"Towards the back nine it started getting a little sparse. I think they
might have tipped back a couple and got a little sleepy."