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British Open 2012: Grading Phil Mickelson's Round 1 Performance

Phil Mickelson looks for his ball in the deep rough in the opening round of the British Open Thursday.
Phil Mickelson looks for his ball in the deep rough in the opening round of the British Open Thursday.Harry How/Getty Images
Alex ButlerContributor IIIJuly 19, 2012

Phil Mickelson is in danger of missing yet another cut. Through the first round of the British Open, Lefty is tied for 99th with the likes of 15 others. On Thursday, Mickelson looked more like a gopher than a golfer, as he burrowed himself deep in the rough looking for his ball. 

Mickelson finished second in the 2011 British Open. He shot even par in last year's opening round compared to Thursday's three-over. Mickelson bogeyed four times on the front nine at the Royal Lytham & St. Annes course. 

Before the tournament, Shane Bacon of cbssports.com said that "A Phil Mickelson win at the British Open would be shocking," and now Lefty is only adding to that storyline.

Bacon says that Mickelson won't win a Claret Jug largely because of how the Lancashire, England course opposes his style.

Bacon says, "Phil hasn't been able to win a British because the shot there isn't in the air. For all the superlatives we toss around about Mickelson, the guy absolutely loathes keeping the ball on the ground."

And that's what Mickelson must do to contend for the Claret Jug.

In 2011, Mickelson had rounds of 70, 69, 71 and 68, and he moved up from seventh place in the third round en route to his runner-up finish. If he wants to win his fifth major championship and first British Open, Phil must lay low and play safer to stay in contention. 

Tiger Woods warned of the vicious nature of the vaunted greenery Saturday when he told the Guardian, "In some places it is almost unplayable."

According to Jonathan Wall, the Devil Ball Golf blogger for Yahoo! Sports, "When (Mickelson) goes to bed Thursday night, there's a good chance he'll have a few nightmares about Royal Lytham's diabolical rough." 

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