PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Phil Mickelson can't seem to see the shots. He can't picture his putts going into the hole. And for the second big tournament this year, the only thing he will see of the final two rounds will be on television.
Mickelson only made three birdies, one short of making the cut Friday in The Players Championship. This weekend off comes a month after Mickelson missed the cut in the Masters for the first time in 17 years.
"I don't know what to say. I don't feel bad about the game, but mentally I'm just really soft right now," Mickelson said. "I'm having a hard time focusing on the shot. I'm having a hard time seeing the ball go in the hole. But the physical game doesn't feel bad. I don't feel bad about the way I'm hitting it. I don't feel like the misses are bad. I haven't driven the ball this well ever, but getting the ball to the hole, getting the shots close, getting the putts to go, I just haven't been able to do it.
"So I feel like it's more of a mental issue and I'll go home and see if I can work on it."
After a runner-up finish at Abu Dhabi in a European Tour event to start the year, Mickelson has not recorded a top-10 finish on the PGA Tour. He has never gone this deep into the season as a pro without recording a top 10.
Mickelson took 61 putts over two days. He played the par 5s in only 1-under for the two rounds. He didn't have many answers, and neither did the two guys playing with him. Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia were at a loss, too.
"To tell you the truth, it doesn't look like he's that far away," Garcia said. "Obviously, he struggled to make putts, which are always going to make your rounds tougher. ... If he makes maybe two or three more, we're talking about him being 3 or 4 under and he's right there."
Next up for Mickelson is the stretch run to the U.S. Open, the one major keeping him from the career Grand Slam. Mickelson will play the Memorial and in Memphis in the two weeks before going to Pinehurst No. 2.
HAVE JOB, HAVE FUN: Jim Furyk remembered his early years on the PGA Tour when he was leading a tournament with Wayne Levi and heard the former PGA Tour player of the year describe golf as a job.
"I was a young guy on tour," Furyk said. "I was thinking, 'This is the greatest job going.' I was thinking, 'Man, just shoot me if I ever get to the point where it becomes a job.' I might as well quit."
Late last year, his 20th straight on tour, golf felt like a job to Furyk.
"I had to figure out a way to make it fun again and to enjoy what I do, and it's not hard," Furyk said after a 68 left him four shots out of the lead going into the weekend at The Players. "I played this game my whole life because I love it."
But after so many years on tour, it became difficult to head to the airport knowing he would be missing baseball games, lacrosse games. Suddenly, it felt like he was getting in his car and driving to work. To his job.
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