Only Phil Mickelson can make a 78 entertaining. Lefty was 6 over in the final round on Sunday at the 2020 Memorial Tournament, and that included a putt from 78 yards on the par-14 3th hole and a lay up on the par-3 (!) 16th hole. Mickelson hit his drive on No. 13 a heady 364 yards and pulled putter from distance. He got it up to the edge of the green (although not on it) and took two more strokes for the par. It … worked, I guess.
“The reason I tried to putt was the fairway prior to the green was pitched more severely right to left, and if I used that slope it was going to angle and get the ball working over to the left pin and possibly get close,” explained Mickelson. “Whereas, if I hit a wedge shot and flew it on to the front edge or just short, it wasn’t using that extra pitch or contour to get the ball over to the left.
“I would have had to settle for a good shot being 12 or 15 [yards] right of the hole. I didn’t hit it hard enough, but if I had hit that hard enough or the right speed, I think that ball could have gotten close to the hole to a tap-in, whereas a wedge I didn’t see that being possible.”
Three holes later, Mickelson purposely laid up on the 173-yard par-3 16th hole. He hit his shot 142 yards, which left him 30 yards in on the toughest hole on the course. He made bogey.
“So yeah, 16 is a hard hole,” said Mickelson, who has played this event two weeks in a row after finishing T58 at last week’s Workday Charity Open. “I played it eight days. I’m 10 over. So I improved my score 2 today by playing for a 4, and I’ve made four or five doubles on the hole, and it just is a hard golf hole for me. Obviously you can’t go left in the water, and when I go right, usually it’s a hotter shot like I pull it or it draws and it’s always on the downslope of the bunker, and I just can’t stop it oftentimes on the green.
“So I just laid up to where I have an angle to putt it up the green. So I took a 5 out of play, and I was trying to make a 3 and had a 12-footer for it.”
Mickelson finished outside the top 50 after a tough weekend of 73-78, and it’s been a tough restart for Mickelson who doesn’t have a top-20 showing in four appearances back since the restart just over a month ago.
He’s not the only one struggling with Muirfield Village on Sunday, though. The field average is hovering between 76 and 77 about halfway through the final round, and these two insane shots won’t be the last two crazy looks we see this week at a baked-out course that’s demanding every ounce of creativity these PGA Tour pros have in the tank.