There’s never a dull moment when Phil Mickelson is involved.
Following a second-hole bogey, Mickelson played the final seven holes of his first round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in 4-under par to turn in 3-under and right in the thick of things. However, after hitting a wayward drive on the par-4 10th, Phil the Thrill proved why his nickname is as pertinent now as ever.
Originally worried that the drive may have gone out of bounds, Mickelson found his ball barely in play well left of the 10th fairway. Yet, although it was technically in bounds, his ball came to rest very near a mesh fence that, given the angle to the green, prohibited him from playing his normal left-handed shot.
Instead of taking an unplayable lie, the always inventive Mickelson went to the out-of-bounds side of the fence and began rehearsing right-handed swings with the intention of flipping over his club and playing the shot opposite-handed in hopes of getting his ball back in play.
What happened next was quintessential Phil.
Thinking he made good contact, Phil looked for his ball in the air only to have his brother and caddie, Tim, announce, “it’s in the fence.”
The ball got wrapped in the mesh fencing, slowly and brutally falling out of bounds.
“Now it’s out of bounds,” Phil announced. “Oh my God, I didn’t think of that.”
Mickelson took a supervised drop under the new Rules of Golf, hit his fourth shot onto the front of the green and two-putted for double bogey.
“I actually thought I could get that on the green. I really did,” Mickelson said after his round. “I had 117 (yards) front and tried to flip a 9-iron over. I thought the ball was going to take off fine. I had clean contact with it, I thought, and it obviously didn’t work out.
“Obviously I hit it, and the fence moved forward enough to grab the ball. I thought I was going to hit the ball first and it was going to get out in front of the fence. I thought it was going to be fine. I didn’t think it was an issue.”
Forever undeterred, Mickelson rallied to birdie three of his next eight holes to finish the day at 4-under par, three shots back of first-round leader Rafa Cabrera-Bello.