A spot on the calendar typically reserved for thoughts of Phil Mickelson completing the career grand slam has taken on a new look at The Country Club. Kicking off the 122nd U.S. Open with an 8-over 78 on Thursday, the six-time major championship winner's defeated look from his early week press conference leaked into his on the course performance.
Beginning his day with bogeys on three of his first five holes, it appeared as if the newly minted 52-year-old would get back on track when his approach shot into the par-3 sixth settled into a convertible birdie distance. Instead, disaster struck for Mickelson as he ultimately four-putted for double bogey.
It was a moment in which it seemed as if all the noise from the past four months had finally gotten to him.
Dejected, Mickelson sauntered on. Despite his poor play, he was still able to deliver some classic thumbs-ups as well as a handful of vintage moments.
A saucy wedge on the par-3 11th led to his lone birdie of the day, and it was followed up with a double bogey on the par-4 12th in which Mickelson almost holed out from the middle of the fairway to save bogey. It was, as Alan from "The Hangover" would say, "Vintage Phil."
Five straight pars came before a bogey on the last brought Mickelson's total for the championship to 8 over. He now finds his name in a tie for 146th and ahead of only six other competitors in Brookline, Massachusetts.
Snarky remarks regarding his performance and the continuous piling on is inevitable, but in the context of being a man on the wrong side of 50 with only three competitive rounds under his belt since mid February, they almost seem unfair.