After winning three times in 2013 without a driver in his bag, five-time major champion, Phil Mickelson went to Abu Dhabi with a new club, and found the same old problems. Mickelson hit only 6 of 14 fairway en route to a one over par 73 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship on Thursday. Lefty finds himself six shots off the pace as play concluded on day 1 in the United Arab Emirates.
On a golf course that demands that you play from the fairway due to the long gnarly rough just inches away, Mickelson spent most of his day scrambling to save par. He wasn’t able to put one birdie on his card for the day, but was 5 for 6 in the scrambling statistic, and 3 for 3 in sand saves.
With an average tee shot near 300 yards on the day, Phil hit 12 greens in regulation, and made one bogey at the ninth hole.
After spending a good portion of last season employing a driver-less setup — Mickelson used Callaway’s taller-faced X Hot 3Deep fairway wood as his “driver” to win the British Open and Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open — Mickelson confirmed he would be carrying a 9.5-degree Big Bertha Alpha for the first time.
Phil got on track last season with a win at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, and followed it with two wins in Scotland, including his first Claret Jug at Muirfield. He took the driver out of his bag, and was able to find fairways with his 3 Wood.
Other than his troubles off the tee, Phil played very well on Thursday. He is one of the worlds best scramblers, and it showed on Thursday in the dessert. He is only six strokes out of the lead, and if he were able to cure the driver woes and hit some fairways, could be back in this thing before Sunday.
All he needs to do on Friday, is make the cut!
Source: PGATour.com and EuropeanTour.com
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