Phil Mickelson made an uncharacteristic start to his second round at the PGA Championship, but the left-hander finished with a touch of class.
He started the day with a triple bogey on the first hole, which involved him smacking a ball so far off the Baltusrol course that it landed up in somebody's backyard.
But the day ended with Mickelson striding up the hill of the 18th hole, with crowd chanting "USA, USA!" securing his fourth birdie of the afternoon, making the cut with a finish of one-over.
“I think in the history of the PGA championship, that’s the worst start of any player’s round. I have to look that up,” Mickelson said after coming back with a 70 in the second round. “I don’t even know what to say, pure mental block."
“I struck it on the range, I’ve been driving it really straight. I can’t say long, because I can’t even sniff Jason Day and Rory McIlroy in my group, but I’ve been hitting it really straight. Just a total mental block on that first hole, and I don’t even know what to say. It was just horrific. But I was able to fight back, be patient from there on out, start to make a birdie here or there.”
Mickelson hit his first drive so far to the left that it ended up completely missing the fairway, soaring over the rough and off the course. It flew over some more trees, bounced on Shunpike Road, before it took a left down Baltusrol Drive and finally landed in someone's backyard.
Mickelson again missed the fairway on his second tee shot, which landed up on a path. His third narrowly avoided landing in another backyard. It eventually took two shots for him to reach the green, before he sunk a putt for a score of seven.
He was fully aware that the cut was at two-over and sunk a birdie when he needed it most to secure his entry into the weekend's proceedings.
“I hit two solid shots on the last to make the cut and to give me a chance to play the weekend,” Mickelson said.
“I’m having a difficult time managing my expectations, because I know how well I’m playing and I’m so result-oriented that I’m not playing very relaxed golf. I’m going to try and go out and not worry about the score and just play a good round."
“I’m trying to force the issue because I know you’ve got to get hot out here. But after just making the cut I’m able to scale back my expectations for the week, enjoy the two days of the weekend and showcase just how well I have been playing. Even though it probably won’t be enough, it’s fun to be playing good golf.”
Mickelson hung onto his sense of humour with some banter with a fan whom he hit with a wayward shot.
“The guy was holding his arm. He wouldn’t let go of his arm,” Mickelson said.
“I was saying in Ohio I tagged a guy on the head and he wasn’t holding his head. He was just walking around like, look, it happens, I’m cool with it. And this guy gets a little tiny ding on his arm and he’s not letting go. So I roughed him up a little over that.”
Spaniard looking ahead.
Englishman has high hopes.
Northumberland course recognised again.
Slieve Russell impressing again.
World number four feeling confident.
Home favourite wants to press home advantage.
Merger to create better opportunities.
Spanish ace extends sponsorship.
Mallorcan course impressing.