During the second round of the Valspar Championship, Phil Mickelson had just come off three straight birdies on hole Nos. 11, 12, and 13 to move to 4 under on the day and 2 under for the tournament.
With the cut line at -1, and Mickelson facing the par-5 14th – the second easiest hole on the Copperhead course, it seemed like the 50-year old was headed to the weekend.
But then things changed: Mickelson hit a poor tee shot on 14, landing in the rough, which resulted in a par on the very gettable scoring hole. After a par on the par-3 15th, Mickelson was still 2 under and just needed to avoid a pair of bogeys on his final three holes.
Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened as he bogeyed No. 16 and 18, missing his par putt on the final hole by inches.
Afterwards, the usually affable and friendly Mickelson did his best impersonation of Bill Belichick, answering questions with gruff single sentences.
Talk about your day out there.
PHIL MICKELSON: I had an enjoyable day – good golf course and I enjoyed the challenge of playing it.
Anything particular you felt went wrong coming in?
MICKELSON: I felt like what?
Anything particular you felt went wrong coming in the last few holes?
MICKELSON: Not really.
You’re planning to play next week, Wells Fargo, what else is on the calendar?
MICKELSON: I’ll play there and the PGA for sure.
And any plans for Champions Tour coming up?
MICKELSON: Not in the foreseeable — nothing foreseeable.
After cooling his jets a bit, Mickelson finally expounded, and cited his inability to focus as he’s gotten older.
What do you take out of today’s round, what did you get from it?
MICKELSON: I know what my problem is. I’m not physically able to keep my focus. As I’ve gotten older, I have a hard time focusing. And that’s my challenge right now and I’m trying to come up about with — I’m trying all different things to be able to elongate my ability to stay focused or to refocus.
But when I get called off shots, like cell phones ringing or people yelling or something, my physical ability to refocus, to back away and then refocus and so forth, I’m not able — I’m physically not able to do it right now. So I have to find techniques to be able to — I mean, to be able to do that.
It’s a physiological thing. I’ve actually been meeting with a lot of people and trying to figure this out. But I go through spells of three or four holes, like I did Thursday, Friday at Augusta, where I’ll throw five, six shots away in a four-hole stretch and I just kind of go mind numb and my ability to regain focus has been the biggest challenge as I’ve gotten older. And I just, I don’t have a great solution right now. But I’m working on it.