WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — For 16 adventurous holes, Phil Mickelson rotated shots equally terrific and terrible, a sequence more up-and-down than the mountaintops framing the Greenbrier Classic.
Through all that instability, however, he remained at even par, seemingly about to salvage nothing worse than a zero-sum afternoon as Thursday’s round wound to a close.
Then came Nos. 17 and 18, where Mickelson flailed and faltered to an embarrassing finish.
A snowman triple-bogey on the 17th hole, followed by a bogey on 18, left Mickelson 4 over and in danger of missing a third consecutive cut on the Old White TPC.
“I just don’t score well here—I don’t know why,” he said.
Surrounded by the day’s largest galleries, Mickelson teamed with Bubba Watson (2 under) and defending champ Ted Potter Jr. (1 under) on what amounted to a must-see afternoon grouping. Though fairly even most of he afternoon, the group experienced separation when Mickelson went from the water to the sand on No. 17. A three-putt gave him an 8 on the hole, and on No. 18 he ran an 11-foot par putt far past the cup and missed the 4-foot return.
“I’m struggling reading these greens, really having a hard time on the 5- and 6-footers,” he said. “They look so straight to me and they’re moving quite a bit. So I’m having a tough time adjusting to this golf course. It’s subtly challenging.”
Mickelson, having likely played himself out of the tournament in the span of two holes, dismissed talk of a Friday comeback.
“I’m so far back that I just want to play a solid round and see what that does,” he said. “You know there’s a low round out there—I just have to go shoot it.”