SAN DIEGO (AP) – Phil Mickelson backed off his shot and called for silence after a phone rang in the gallery. Exasperated, he stepped back a second time when it happened again.
A third thing and Lefty couldn’t take it anymore.
“Really? Can we get someone to help you?” He said.
Finally able to strike silently, Mickelson sent the shot into the bushes to the left, triggering a ghost.
“I don’t understand why you can’t mute that little side button,” he said.
Inconsiderate fans weren’t Mickelson’s only problem Thursday at horrible Torrey Pines.
Unable to get many good looks on the birdie, Mickelson had three bogeys in his first six holes and two later to shoot 4-for-75 in the first round. That leaves him eight shots behind starting leader Russell Henley in his bid to win his first US Open and complete the grand slam of his career.
“I was fighting hard the entire round,” Mickelson said. “I wasn’t really doing anything and I fought really hard, and then I let two bogeys slide on 6 and 7 when I really shouldn’t have.”
Mickelson made history last month by winning the PGA Championship to become the oldest player to win a major.
He returned to his hometown, celebrated his 51st birthday on Wednesday, and set off to chase a little more history. Winning at Torrey Pines and Mickelson would become the sixth player to win the grand slam of his career and erase some demons after coming so close to winning the US Open so many times.
HI’s offering got off to a rocky start.
A heavy marine layer covered the cliffs of Torrey Pines early Thursday, delaying the first round by 90 minutes.
Once the sun was out, Mickelson hit a solid drive on his first hole of the day, par 4 10, but pushed his second shot into a bunker next to the green. He followed up with a solid bunker shot from a downhill slope at 13 feet, but his par putt went around the hole and he came out.
The 613-yard 13th hole has a steep drop on the second shot before hitting the green, so Mickelson took out a fairway wood in an attempt to get into the short bunkers to the right. After backing up three times, he pushed his second shot to the left into the bushes.
Mickelson’s fourth shot, after a fall, hit the flagpole and hit the deep rough. He cut it off and managed to make a 6-foot par putt, saving a hard-fought ghost.
“I hammered it,” he said. “But it was going to be 40 feet; it was also going to be past. It was getting really hot. It’s not like it’s going to be around. So the fact that I did 6 there, that’s all I was trying to do after taking a drop. “
A wild drive into the trees and a rough knot to the left of 15th fairway forced him to pull, leading him to another bogey that put him 3 over after six holes.
Then things started to come together, for a while.
Mickelson made a 9-foot birdie putt at par 4 of 17 and ran a series of six pairs in a row, looking to be in good shape with 2 under.
He then fell short of the 519-yard par 4 sixth hole and couldn’t go up and down for par. He followed up with a three-putt bogey on par 4 seventh.
“You probably saw the disappointment there,” he said. “Look, it’s part of this tournament and I was able to go without doubles. I just didn’t make enough birdies to make up for it. “
Mickelson gets another shot at Torrey Pines on Friday in the second round.
Expect more birdies and less stuff.