There was no transcript of a Phil Mickelson interview after his second round at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Then again, tour pros who just signed for an 80 don’t often hold a press conference afterward. But the 50-year-old Hall of Famer, a five-time winner on the Monterey Peninsula, spoke volumes with one line picked up by a microphone as he wrapped up a frustrating Friday at Pebble Beach.
Let’s set the scene: Mickelson had shot a two-over 74 at Spyglass Hill on Thursday, so he needed a good round at Pebble to have a chance at making the cut in a tournament where he had done just that 21 times in 24 previous starts. (Mind you, the cut usually is after 54 holes at the AT&T but with the Pro-Am format scrapped and just two courses being used by the pros, it was changed to after 36 for this year).
Mickelson, however, couldn’t seem to get anything going on the front nine, making the turn in one over. And then on the par-5 14th hole, he hooked his drive OB en route to a double-bogey 7 and an almost certain MC. Mickelson followed that by bogeying his next two holes.
At least though there was the par-5 18th, where Lefty could shrug off some of the disappointment with a beautiful walk along Stillwater Cove. Except the walk turned out to be anything but beautiful.
“Paul, that’s a 9. … I’m kind of crushing it on the par 5s right now.”
Give Mickelson some credit. Self-deprecation in the face of a quadruple bogey is the best way to react, even if one’s normal inclination would be to throw your ball—and perhaps your entire bag of golf clubs—into the Pacific Ocean.
And Mickelson had every right to be frustrated. This was a tournament he’d won only two years ago and finished third in last year. And he had shot an 80 or worse just nine times in his 2,206 rounds on tour prior to Friday, the last coming in his infamous third round of the 2018 U.S. Open (when he hit a moving ball on the 13th green). In fact, of those nine previous rounds, six had come in major championship or at the Players Championship.
Unfortunately, it’s the timing of this round—not to mention the place—that becomes worrisome. This is the fourth missed cut for Mickelson in eight starts in the 2020-21 PGA Tour season and his best finish in the events where he’s played the weekend is just a T-44 at the Safeway Open in September. Here’s another metric that puts his season thus far into perspective: he was 191st on the FedEx Cup points list entering the week.
It didn’t help that Mickelson played 12 time zones away the previous week at the European Tour’s Saudi International and had to adjust quickly to be able to perform this week. But you know Lefty hoped his past success at Pebble would help him shake the jetlag a little more quickly. Unfortunately for him, that didn’t happen.