Archive for Saturday, August 16, 2003

Mickelson gambles again, fades in PGA

August 16, 2003

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— Phil Mickelson gambled once and lost two shots.

He gambled again and lost his lead.

Stop here if this sounds all too familiar.

Another roller-coaster day in a major championship ended with Mickelson coming up short again, blowing an early four-shot lead with a 75 Friday that left him four shots behind in the PGA Championship.

Just when it seemed Mickelson was on the verge of overcoming his major championship demons, he gave into his aggressive nature at the wrong time and ended up with a couple of wet golf balls.

It cost him two double bogeys in a stretch of three holes on the front nine in a tournament he seemed ready to dominate.

Mickelson's only consolation? It was Friday and not Sunday.

Besides, he wasn't about to apologize for how he got where he was. Not even if he's 0-for-41 and counting in majors as a pro.

"You can't alter your style of play," Mickelson said. "I can't alter what got me to 5 under par. I had some risk-reward shots today, risk-reward shots yesterday and that was one that just didn't come off."

Mickelson was talking about the fifth hole, where he had 128 yards out of the rough to the front of the green over water. He was coming off a birdie the hole before that got him to 5 under, giving him a four-shot lead that had him feeling pretty good about himself.

By the time he left the green, the lead had been reduced to two, and Mickelson was suddenly heading the wrong way in a hurry again.

"It really was not that hard of a shot. I had a pretty decent lie out of the rough, otherwise I probably would have laid up," Mickelson said. "I felt like there was no grass in front of the ball and it would come out OK."

It didn't, though, because Mickelson left his wedge open a bit and the ball didn't fly far enough. Still, he insisted the decision was the correct one because if he had laid up to the right he would have made bogey anyway.

"It was a gamble. No question it was a gamble," he said.

Mickelson wasn't done rolling the dice. On the par-4 No. 7, he pulled out driver instead of trying to play a conservative shot in the fairway.

He hooked it long into the water, and a few minutes later he had his second double bogey.

"The mistake I made there was trying to draw it, trying to start it down the left side and hit a draw because my draw was missing right," Mickelson said. "You just can't miss it right on this golf course."

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