Lefty delighted to be back
Phil Mickelson returned to competitive action on Thursday with an opening 70 and was delighted to be back in the game.
Phil Mickelson shot an opening, level-par 70 at Firestone Country Club in Thursday’s opening round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Ohio and then said he was delighted to be back in the game and that he had been inspired by the success stories of golf’s old brigade.
This in his first tournament since finishing in a tie for second at the US Open in mid-June.
The world number two took time off after Bethpage to be with his wife Amy and mother, both of whom began treatment after being diagnosed with breast cancer.
Mickelson, a two-time winner in 2009, said before the tournament he had missed golf more than he thought he would and said after his first taste of tournament golf in a while he was “excited to get back out and play”.
“I missed playing golf, and I missed competing. I missed both of those aspects, In the off-season I enjoy taking that time off, I enjoy being away from the game. This was different.”
While he was away Mickelson marvelled at the performance of Tom Watson in the Open Championship at Turnberry last month as the 59-year-old lost out in a play-off with Stewart Cink, saying it made the 39-year-old contemplate the possibility of competing longer on the PGA Tour.
“More years? Possibly,” the American said.
“I think watching Tom Watson almost win at 59, I find that to be… even though he didn’t win…I find that to be one of the most inspirational stories in the game.
“The fact that he’s able to compete at that age and the fact that Greg Norman was able to compete at the British (Open) last year at 53, I think Kenny Perry is an inspiration winning at 49, and – knock on wood – I haven’t had any injuries throughout my career other than a bone bruise that went away after six, eight weeks or 12 weeks.
“So it makes me think that I can be competitive later but right now let’s just worry about this tournament.”
Mickelson began his first round at Firestone slowly, with a double-bogey six at his second hole of the day, the 11th, going out in a three-over 38.
He clawed his way back with three birdies on the back nine but was surprised at the level of tournament rustiness he experienced.
“I think surprising for me was I had been playing much better this week in my preparation,” he added.
“I had been driving the ball a lot better, I was swinging the club much more confidently. I think when you get in competition, I wasn’t trusting myself as much, and the pins start to get tucked and you can’t miss it in certain spots, and I start kind of steering it a little bit.
“The last eight holes I made a few better swings. I hit a shot at seven where I carved a four iron in there to get back to that back left pin and made a 15-footer for birdie.
“There was big for me because to get back to under par after being three over, to get in a position to move up the leaderboard, that was good.”
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