Phil Mickelson rattled off a litany of things that went terribly wrong for him Saturday.
A three-putt from four feet on No. 3 … a missed five-foot putt on No. 15 … his usual superb short game betraying him much of the day … letting leader Tiger Woods pick up two more strokes on him to put him in a five-stroke hole going into Sunday’s final round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship.
For most people, that would be enough to utter a few choice words and pound a club into the ground in anger. Not Mickelson.
In fact, when he finished playing Saturday, Mickelson was grinning, as he usually does, and talking about how he could make up those five strokes on the TPC Blue Monster course at Trump Doral Golf Club and Resort.
“Out here, it’s not overly difficult for the reason that you can make a lot of birdies,” Mickelson said after his 3-under-par 69 on Saturday. “Even in tough conditions, even in wind, you can shoot in the mid-60s fairly easy.”
Of course, even if Mickelson pulls off that mid-60s feat, Woods would have to be extremely cooperative by shooting in the 70s on Sunday, and so far Woods hasn’t come close, posting rounds of 66, 65 and 67.
Mickelson doesn’t dismiss that it’s a big task awaiting him against his longtime rival Woods — he’s just saying it’s not impossible.
“Interesting,” is how Mickelson described his Saturday round.
“It wasn’t enough to make up ground on Tiger,” he said, “and I’m going to have to play a really incredible round Sunday.
“But I don’t have to play that differently than I played [Saturday]. I just can’t afford to give away all those shots. There were shots out there — numerous shots — that could have brought it down to the score I need on Sunday.”
Mickelson will be playing with Steve Stricker, who is also five back of Woods, for the fourth consecutive day Sunday.
“If Steve or I can get off to a hot start on the group in front, I think we can make a run,” Mickelson said.
As much as Mickelson has enjoyed playing with Stricker, toward the end of Saturday’s round he thought they might part company on the final day.
Mickelson, late in the round Saturday, was doing a little scoreboard watching, and saw Woods’ playing partner, Graeme McDowell, was at 12-under, and Mickelson and Stricker were at 13-under.
Needs fast start
“I thought it was between Stricker and me to get in the last group,” Mickelson said. “I didn’t realize Graeme had eagled 16.”
So, Saturday’s final two twosomes will be the same as Sunday — Mickelson and Stricker teeing off next-to-last and Woods and McDowell teeing off last.
“That might be a blessing,” Mickelson said, “because I think that there have been so many times, here at Doral especially, where the winner has come from the group one or two in front of the leaders.
“If we can get off to a fast start, like I said, it’s tough to follow suit. It’s tough when you have to make birdies. It’s not as hard to make them first.”
Of spending four days with Stricker, Mickelson said: “We’ve had fun the whole time, a really fun three days, and we’re going to have four.
“Hopefully, we’ll be shooting some low ones [Sunday] and make our run.”