San Diego: Phil Mickelson, an unabashed fan of Torrey Pines where he has triumphed three times, was totally perplexed after battling to a five-over-par 77 in the opening round of the Farmers Insurance Open.
In near-perfect scoring conditions on the South Course picturesquely laid out on bluffs above the Pacific coastline, Mickelson mixed seven bogeys with two birdies to end a glorious day of sunshine a distant 15 strokes off the lead.
He had a golden opportunity to finish his round with two consecutive birdies but missed a three-foot putt at the par-five 18th to match his second highest score at an event he has played 23 times.
"I had some good days of practice and I was ready to play," a dumfounded Mickelson told reporters. "I don`t know what happened. I just wasn`t able to focus.
"Obviously, I made some bad swings just in the wrong spots and so forth, but I felt like my game was ready heading in. I don`t know what to say about the score because it was pathetic."
Asked why he had difficulty in focusing, Mickelson replied: "I just didn`t put the ball where I wanted to and see it clearly. I ended up making a lot of swings where I missed the ball in the wrong spot."
Mickelson, who lives in nearby Rancho Santa Fe, had high hopes for this week, having tied for 49th at the Humana Challenge on Sunday at La Quinta where he improved after opening with a two-over-par 74.
"It`s a little disappointing that the first round here and the first round last week have been so poor, because I felt really ready and sharper than I have in a long time starting the year," said the four-times major champion. "So to shoot those numbers, I don`t get it."
Mickelson, who this week is competing in his second PGA Tour event of the year, faces an uphill task to make the cut but he will at least have the easier North Course to negotiate in Friday`s second round.
"There is an opportunity tomorrow to go really low over on the North if you play well," the 41-year-old said. "I birdied 17 today and I thought I had a birdie on 18, but I missed that little one there.
"That would have gotten me to a point where I thought if I could have shot six or seven under par on the North, I`d at least get here for the weekend and build some momentum."
Mickelson`s worst score at the Torrey Pines event was a 78 in the third round in 1978.