Phil Mickelson acknowledged he felt like screaming after watching his putt on the 18 th green at Royal Troon lip out to prevent him becoming the first player ever to score a round of 62 at a major championship
At 21 minutes past six on Thursday evening, Phil Mickelson was poised to etch his name into sporting folklore. The American had a 16 ft putt at the 18 th to become the first player to score 62 at a major championship. He missed but the outcome, of a ball lipping out from the position where it seemed certain to fell, had to be seen to be believed. Even then, a gasp mob scratched their heads. How cruel, how utterly and compellingly cruel.
I played one of the best rounds of my life but I feel like screaming, Mickelson said. All these highlights and I feel like screaming. I dont know how that putt remained out. I want to shed a tear right now. That putt on 18 was an opportunity to do something historical. I knew it and with a foot to run I guessed I had done it. I ensure that ball rolling right in the centre. I went to go get it, I had that surge of adrenalin that I had just shot 62 and then I had the heartbreak that I didnt and watched that ball lip out. It was wow, that stings. The opportunity to shoot 62 and be the first one to do it, I simply dont think thats going to come around again. Thats why I walk away so disappointed.
No one, other than the golfing divinities, could provide the 2013 Open champwith a reasonable rationale. It felt like a dictionary definition of bittersweet for the tournament leader.
Mickelson said: If I had just reach a weak flail-off, the putt never had a chance and I left it short, so be it. But this ball was hunting right in the centre and didnt run. It was just heartbreaking.
In terms of the Open scene, Mickelson had no cause to be upset. He rendered the 28 th major 63 and only the ninth in the Open; no player had returned that rating when playing this tournament at Royal Troon. With 54 pits to play, Mickelsons advantage is three from Martin Kaymer and Patrick Reed.
Only three of Mickelsons 81 Open rounds have proved bogey-free, all of them arriving at Troon. The latest was by virtue of respective halves of 32 and 31. One of the biggest challenges is, when you shoot a round like this, expectations running through your head, Mickelson said. Thats the one thing that Ill have to try to suppress and hold off. Well have three more rounds. Well have varying conditions tomorrow. Its going to be very difficult.
Ernie Els, who played alongside Mickelson, was understandably lavish with his kudo. The route he played out there today, its amazing hes only won one Open, the South African said. It was beautifully played. He was in total control of the ball. Its simply a pity he didnt manage that 62. I dont know how that putt didnt go in on 18, that would have been something. That was a great, great round.
What Thursday dedicated, Friday will take away. A gloriously sunny day on the Ayrshire coast, the kind all the publicity campaigns in the world cannot buy, was more pertinent in this context for the lack of wind. It was mild in the morning but non-existent in the afternoon, when Mickelson took to the links.
We were to enjoy it, and Mickelson surely did, while it lasted. Day twos forecast is of the kind ordinarily reserved for Glastonbury: persistent and heavy rain with ever-increasing gusts, potentially reaching 35 mph subsequently before close of play. As has become a Troon quirk of history, Americans Kaymer, Soren Kjeldsen and Andy Sullivan aside predominate the upper part of the leaderboard. It is to be inferred that situation may change when the weather does likewise.
I think when youre an American you feel more comfortable in America, said Kaymer. As a European, I love playing in Europe because every week is very different and I enjoy the different cultures. It took me 10 years to figure it out, to understand where is the best place for me to play my best golf.
Dustin Johnson, who arrived here as “the mens” in such wonderful kind, was forced to reach for a second ball from the 1st tee after carving a drive right. The world No2 recovered from that opening bogey but only marginally in scoring 71. At eight shootings adrift of the lead, Johnson already detects himself with considerable work to do. You have to hole putts here, he said. I felt like I putted well but nothing went in.
Jason Days start was surely more of a disappointment, owing to a 73. If Im patient and I simply start making the correct shootings and devote myself the opportunities, I can get myself back in the tournament, said an upbeat world No1.
Jordan Spieth starts the second round on even par, with Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler both on minus two. Danny Willett signed for 71 while Shane Lowry, astonishingly, slipped to a 78. These details were an elongated footnote. The day belonged to Mickelson, even in self-confessed agony. What a standard has been set.
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