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Mickelson got 'rusty' practicing at Augusta
By BOB HARIG
Published March 25, 2005
PONTE VEDRA BEACH - Phil Mickelson skipped the Bay Hill Invitational last week, opting for a weekend of practice around the TPC-Sawgrass.
Then on Monday, he went to Augusta National in Georgia for two days of practice in preparation for his Masters defense in two weeks.
So it seemed a bit odd Thursday after Mickelson completed a 2-under-par 70 in the first round of the Players Championship that he complained about being "rusty."
"I really didn't get any good practice sessions in in the last week," Mickelson said after finishing bogey-bogey. "I did a lot of work on the course Saturday, Sunday, did a lot of work at the course at Augusta Monday and Tuesday. The weather (Wednesday) prevented me from getting a good session in, and the early tee time didn't really allow me to come out sharp."
Mickelson, who has won twice this year and finished second to Tiger Woods at Doral three weeks ago, twice got to 4 under in his round. But he double-bogeyed the par-3 eighth hole to fall back to 2 under. After birdies at the 11th and 16th holes, Mickelson bogeyed the par-3 17th and hit his tee shot in the water at the 18th.
"If you had given me 2 under I would have taken it gladly at the start of the round," said Mickelson, who trails first-round leader Steve Jones by six strokes. "I knew I was susceptible to a couple of squirrelly shots."
SLOW GOING: PGA Tour players are the best in the world, but not the fastest. That can make for some long days on the course.
"You expect it," said Woods, who shot 70. "Our tour is so slow. Welcome to the PGA Tour, five-plus (hours). We're lucky we didn't have inclement weather. If the wind had been blowing it would have been 51/2 (hours) easy. It's just a slow march around the golf course. You get used to it playing the tour, and it doesn't really surprise you."
AROUND THE TPC: Only seven balls found the water on the par-3 17th island hole (two by Tim Clark, who made seven), which was playing 137 yards and for most players required just a pitching wedge or 9-iron. ... The 2004 European Ryder Cup team was well-represented with four members - Lee Westwood, Luke Donald, Sergio Garcia and Padraig Harrington - in the top eight. ... There were 87 rounds at par or better. ... Hal Sutton, who won the Players in 1983 and 2000, shot 84, the day's highest score and his worst by five strokes in 73 rounds at the TPC.