PGA Tour

No practice round, no problem for Mickelson

Phil Mickelson (Getty Images)
Phil Mickelson (Getty Images)

Ponte Vedra Beach - Phil Mickelson first competed in The Players Championship as a senior at Arizona State in 1992, the year before Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger and Jordan Spieth were even born.

So his decision not to play a practice round this week at the TPC Sawgrass was really not that big of a deal.

Mickelson had an outing on Monday after the Wells Fargo Championship and had planned on a practice round on Tuesday.

"I was just a little tired, so I just kind of took the day off," he said after opening with a 70.

"And then I was going to go out Wednesday and I just thought, 'Gosh, if I walk around in the heat, I'll get tired. I'd rather just get a nice practice session.' So I ended up doing that."

There have been changes to the Players Stadium Course, most notably the 12th hole that now is 50 yards shorter with water to the left to tempt players to drive the green. With a back right pin position, most players laid up. Other changes were more cosmetic.

"I've played here 25 years, so it's not like that one round was going to make a big difference," Mickelson said.

"I just felt like I wanted to conserve energy and sharpen my game."

There was another way to look at it - playing a practice round the last four years hasn't helped.

Mickelson, who won The Players in 2007 when it first moved from March to May, hasn't had a top 10 since then and hasn't played he weekend since 2012. Thursday was an encouraging start, especially that 5-iron to 6 feet for an eagle on the par-5 16th.

"I'm happy because I've been a lot worse the last few years, so under par is good," Mickelson said.

"I did a lot of really good things, a lot of good shots, a lot of birdies, made an eagle, it's great. Sure, I made some mistakes, but you're going to do that here. That's going to happen. So I thought I did a good job of letting it go and coming back with some birdies."

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