He barely made the cut, but after shooting a second consecutive 2-over 74 today in the second round of the PGA Championship, Mickelson was 4-over for the tournament. At mid-day, the second-ranked player in the world was in real trouble of heading home early. It took a 19-way tie for 62nd place to keep him in it.
"I'm not going to beat many people putting the way I am," said Mickelson, who decided after the first round to do something he hadn't done in a long time: go to the practice green and work on his shoddy short game.
The extra time didn't pay off, though Mickelson insisted he felt better about his putter than the day before.
Beginning on the back nine, he shot into the wind on No. 12 and made birdie. Two holes later, however, he finished with a bogey because of another missed putt.
He amended a double bogey on No. 5 with an eagle on the par-5 seventh hole and had an opportunity to pick up another stroke with a 15-footer on No. 8. It sailed long, and Mickelson waved his hands as if to say, "Come on!"
In all, he needed 77 putts for 36 holes.
"I've got to get this thing turned around," Mickelson said.
Receiving plenty of support from the galleries, one guy yelled, "Keep your head up, Phil!" after he failed to putt for par and made the turn toward the front nine. If it was any consolation, Mickelson's group didn't fare much better than he did.
The last time Mickelson missed the cut in a major was the 2007 British Open, a tournament he skipped this summer to be with his wife and mother, both of whom were recently diagnosed with breast cancer.
Since tying for second place at the U.S. Open in June, Mickelson played only last week's Bridgestone Invitational in Ohio before this. He tied for 58th place at Firestone Country Club.
The assumption is that Mickelson's increased family focus and decreased time on the course has affected his game, but he said that his putting problems were to blame.
"I think the struggling on the greens is carrying over a little bit into, maybe, my focus on some other shots," Mickelson said. "I don't feel I'm hitting it bad, but I'm hitting some bad shots."
Mickelson sent tee shots into the rough, the sand and the gallery over the first two rounds. Today, he hit only six of a possible 14 fairways.
"I don't feel like I'm striking it horrendously," he said. "It's just I'm having trouble scoring right now."