Phil Mickelson’s start to 2019 has been pretty tidy.
The 48-year-old’s debut this week at The Desert Classic has featured 22 birdies and an eagle against one double bogey, which has him two shots clear of Adam Hadwin heading into the final round on Sunday.
Not everything has been as easy as Mickelson has made it look, however. As has been a consistent trend through the first three weeks of 2019, the updated Rules of Golf have given players, including Mickelson, a difficult time.
Re: @PhilMickelson drop on 18th hole: GC just showed replay. He was abt to drop from shoulder, was stopped by the official on-hand from doing so, eventual drop was from above the knee (looked abt quad height). BUT with a rules official right there, he can’t be penalized. #pgatour
— Jeremy Schilling (@jschil) January 18, 2019
“I feel uncomfortable right now because I don’t know them well enough,” Mickelson said following his round on Friday in which he recorded his first knee-high drop. “I’ve been trying to get like a seminar to learn (the rules changes) and I just haven’t had time or a chance to. So playing this game, not knowing the rules, is an unsettling feeling. Hopefully, I’ll figure it out, I’ll be able to get a seminar and learn them.”
Don't count on seeing Phil putt with the pin in again anytime soon.https://t.co/CQydVjQZwb
— Golf World (@GolfWorld) January 19, 2019
Mickelson, who is one of the most cerebral players in the game, would be one you would think would embrace the flagstick-in debate, but even he is skeptical of its benefits.
“I did (leave the pin in) and it felt very uncomfortable,” Mickelson said. “I kind of eased into it thinking that if I hit it too hard it might hit the pin and miss, so I don’t think I’ll do that again.”
Regardless of the manner in which he putts, Mickelson is finding the bottom of the cup in impressive fashion. Through three rounds, Mickelson is among the leaders in putts per green in regulation. He will look to pick up his 44th career PGA Tour victory on Sunday in La Quinta.