by Jeff Skinner
This was supposed to be a glorious debut for Phil Mickelson and his new driver. This was going to be the round where Phil striped it down the middle and played from the short grass all day long. This was the planned start of a new season that would see Phil in the fairway and not in the ankle deep rough. Well some things don’t work out as planned.
After days of raving about the “best driver I’ve ever had” Phil Mickelson’s 2014 debut with his latest and greatest weapon turned out to be a flop. An unofficial count had Phil hitting his Big Bertha Alpha driver off the tee six times and only finding one fairway at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. He even resorted to his old three wood and didn’t have much luck with that either. Overall he could only manage to find six of fourteen fairways and that’s about what we are used to seeing from the world number five.
His wayward tee balls forced him to play from the extra thick rough at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club and it proved to be a difficult day. Phil made seventeen straight pars before a closing bogey left him at one over par and six shots behind the trio of leaders.
To Phil’s credit he admitted his game was off but realizes it’s the first round of the first tournament of his season, “It was rusty. I didn’t strike the ball very well; my swing feels a little rusty,”Mickelson said. “I’m hoping just to work my way into this tournament. This first round I played a little cautious.”
Hitting the fairways is critical on this course and Phil will do whatever it takes for him to compete this week,” You’ve got to get the ball in play off the tee, there’s no other way around it. I hit a lot of 3-woods today trying to get it in play,” he added. “I may have to even fall back and hit hybrids just to get the ball in the fairway because you can’t play from the rough.”
So that may be good news for Bones if Phil doesn’t need a driver or three wood that golf bag just got a little lighter.