June 13, 2013

Juggling family and golf, Mickelson leads rain-soaked US Open

Phil Mickelson flies across the country, then leads among those who finished before rain forced a stop.

The Associated Press

(Continued from page 2)

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Phil Mickelson hits on the fifth hole during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Merion Golf Club, Thursday, June 13, 2013, in Ardmore, Pa. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

click image to enlarge

Martin Laird, left, of Scotland, walks near the fifth hole during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Merion Golf Club on Thursday in Ardmore, Pa. The course is drenched from a week of rain.

The Associated Press

The ceremony was at 6 p.m. PDT. Mickelson was on the plane two hours later, landing in Philadelphia about 3:30 a.m. He had a few hours of sleep on the plane, and then played five holes before the rain delay. He found a few cushions for a makeshift bed in the clubhouse library.

Despite his four birdies, including a 25-foot putt that fell on its last turn at No. 1, Mickelson saved his round with some crucial pars.

He missed the par-3 third green to the right, in fluffy grass down the hill, and hit a flop shot that landed on the collar and stopped 5 feet from the cup. He caught a break when his tee shot went into the hazard left of the fifth fairway, about a foot away from dropping into the small stream. He got that out, hit wedge to 8 feet and made a difficult right-to-left putt. And on the next hole, he swung hard to generate height and spin out of the bunker, the only way to get the ball close. He made an 8-footer for par.

Mickelson hit 9-iron to 2 feet on the seventh hole for birdie, and holed that 30-foot putt on the ninth.

And then, it was time to rest.

"He had a crazy 24 hours," said Keegan Bradley, playing alongside Mickelson and Steve Stricker. "Sometimes that helps, not thinking about it."

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