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.

USA Today photo

Phil Mickelson dropped four strokes over the final two holes Thursday,

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.”

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  • Allan

    I will follow Phil more closely from here on out to evaluate his routine. Maybe his arthritis in his back is flaring up, I know how painful that can be. Obviously Tiger has a schedule that won't allow him to participate or maybe he feels he is too good for WVa. Maybe it's the scheduling of the event that needs to change so it doesn't compete with other events that are of a more higher profile. Lastly, maybe thornton is smarter than all of us, "It's only golf, a game.

  • Allan

    I have to agree with Mike. This is a vacation for Phil and his family, a celeb appearance to endorse the event and draw a crowd for the Greenbrier. I don't think he is really interested in adding this into his win column, there is more important matches for him.

    • JB

      I don't think that's true. Phil wants to win any tournament he enters. He's perfectly capable of golfing and enjoying himself at the same time. This is a guy who flew back to the US Open a few hours before his tee time, then played great. I think he can handle golfing and a resort activity at the same time. For some reason, he's just found a way to miss cuts here, not sure if there's a real reason for it or if it's just a coincidence that his missed cuts happen here.

  • Mike

    Sorry, but I can't help but respond to Phil's comment, “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.” I was there all day Mon. and Tues. at one of the front 9 holes and I did not see him on the course for any of the practice time/rounds. Same thing the previous two years. I think maybe he's ok with coming here and not making the cut. Personally, I don't think that's fair to Mr. Justice for all the bucks and perks Phil and his family are receiving.

    • JB

      Aside from majors and a few other occasions, it's relatively standard for him to arrive at tournaments on Tues and then get acclimated to the course on Wed during the Pro-Am. It's nothing against this tournament, it's been his routine for years.

      • JB

        And I will add that Phil has done very well and won on numerous occasions with that routine (arriving on Tues and playing Wed's Pro-Am). Like I said, it's quite standard for him to not play Mon & Tues practice rounds on site.

    • WVWho

      +1...we know he and his family have enjoyed all the "things to do" the week of the tourney" including whitewater rafting 2 years ago before his round! It is a great perk to enjoy the resort for a week, but after a while it gets old. Tom Watson on the other hand...what a story!

  • LaroldLinus

    Jim Justice gets to use Phil's image on the billboards promoting the tournament; Phil and the family get a free week a the Greenbrier; massive amounts of imbeciles pay big money to walk and gawk. Everybody wins.

  • thornton

    It's only golf....a game.

    Hey, maybe he needs a faster golf cart....be the first one to the ball...wink, wink.

  • Jt

    Probably was informed of the WV tax rate!

  • WVWho

    Maybe if he spent less time vacationing the whole week he might make a cut...just a thought.