After shooting an incredibly disappointing 7 over par 79 at the first round of the PGA Tour’s Memorial Golf Tournament, Phil Mickelson withdrew from the tournament, citing mental fatigue. It was the worst opening round performance outside of a major championship in “Lefty’s” career. Muirfield, which is the site of the Memorial Tournament, is by no means an easy course, but there were definitely scoring opportunities in the first round.
Mickelson likely has his sights set on the U.S. Open, which will take place in two weeks at the Olympic Club in San Francisco. As with any other sport, there are simply some days when it’s not there…when shots are not falling and you are not executing as well as you know you can. Apparently Thursday at the Memorial was one of those days for Phil. Instead of trying to fight through it, he made the decision to withdrawal and take some time to get his head, and his game in shape for the U.S. Open. I don’t think he can be blamed for that.
In an interview on Friday, Phil’s coach, Butch Harmon said that he did not think Phil should have even laced up the golf spikes to play the Memorial at all. Harmon indicated that Phil’s main focus is on the U.S. Open in two weeks and he simply was not ready to play this week. Apparently, Mickelson decided to give it a go against the advice of his coach…and we all saw the result.
Some people are indicating that “Lefty’s” departure from the tournament is some sort of silent protest against the rampant cell phone usage that took place in the gallery following the group of Mickelson, Rickie Fowler and Bubba Watson. Said Watson, of the effect the cell phone cameras had on Phil: “It took Phil out of his game. Phil’s a great player and a great champion and it just took him out of his game. It’s sad. It’s sad that cell phones can make or break a championship.” Fowler, the third member of the group, added: “There were a few phones out there. There were a few times when we had to back off and reset. You could see Phil was a little fatigued and was having trouble blocking it out a bit.”
Notice that Mickelson, himself, has not come out and said anything about cell phone usage being the reason for removing himself from the tournament. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for that to happen, either. Was Phil’s coach correct in saying that he simply wasn’t prepared to play? Were his playing partners correct in saying the reason for his fatigue was the cell phone usage weighing on his psyche? Or was it a combination of both?