US Open - Mickelson left fuming by putter

Reuters - Fri, 18 Jun 00:17:00 2010

Masters champion Phil Mickelson said a splendid day at Pebble Beach was ruined by his "horrific" putting after he posted four-over-par 75 in the opening round of the US Open.

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Mickelson missed five birdie putts within 10 feet -- a three-footer, two five-footers and a pair of 10-footers -- and made three bogeys in a row from the 16th in a frustrating day.

"The pin placements were great. The rough was very fair. They put some water on the greens. I just thought it was really well done," the world number two told reporters.

"As for my own game, obviously I didn't score well. I just putted horrific," five-times Open runner-up Mickelson said after a rare round without a birdie. "It's very frustrating for me to miss all those opportunities.

Starting the day from the 10th tee, Mickelson missed back-to-back birdie putts of five feet at the 14th and 15th holes before beginning a string of bogeys.

"I one-hopped it in the ocean," the left-hander said about his wide left tee shot at the 222-yard par-three 17th.

At 18, his tee shot put him behind a tree on the right side of the fairway 252 yards to the pin. He tried to draw a three-wood around the tree but it failed to turn in, bounced off a stone wall and ricocheted off the rocks into the water.

The crowds lining the ropes tried to urge him on, but Mickelson's frustrations mounted.

He failed to convert 10-foot birdie chances at the second and third holes and slid a three-foot birdie try outside the edge at the par-five sixth to crown an exasperating day.

"I'm rolling the ball well, but there's something off. The ball is not starting on my line," he said after taking 32 putts in the round. "The ball was jumping left and jumping right off the face."

Mickelson, who went directly to the practice green after his round to work on his putting, said the dry weather forecast would make the course play even faster and harder.

"We have three rounds left. I know if I shoot under par tomorrow I'll be right there," he said. "There's no way under par is going to win here, I don't believe. I think over par will win. Because of that, I'm right there."

Reuters

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