Phil Mickelson’s bid to win his first Wells Fargo Championship took a hit Friday afternoon.
Mickelson, who began the day with a two-shot lead, fell behind on the leaderboard after a disastrous back nine that saw him go 4-over-par for the day.
Mickelson carded three bogeys and a double bogey. It actually could have been worse. On No. 14, Mickelson hit a ball in the water off the tee. Fortunately, he was able to save par.
It was a rough day for Mickelson, who carded a 64 on Day 1 to finish Thursday at 7-under.
Still, Mickelson enters the third round only three shots out of the lead at 3-under.
Mickelson, a five-time major championship winner, is trying to win his first Wells Fargo Championship in 16 attempts. The 50-year-old golfer has eight top-five finishes, including a runner-up finish, but has never finished first.
Mickelson’s struggles were apparent on the back nine. He bogeyed holes 11 and 15, and double bogeyed 17, a par-3.
His first shot on 17 fell short of the green into the water, causing him to take a penalty stroke. He hit the next shot within 17 feet of the cup and finally tapped it in two shots later.
“I just — I just wasn’t sharp,” Mickelson said. “I think kind of an example of what I’ve been talking about is like, on 17 we’re standing over the ball, and I’m changing my mind and I’m changing the shot, moving the clubhead a little bit and it just — instead of backing away and kind of refocusing, I just kind of hit it and I’m not really kind of aware of what I’m doing. So I’ve got to fix that and work on it.”
Mickelson hasn’t won a PGA Tour event since February 2019, when he won the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. And he’s won only two events since the 2014 season.
But he said he remained optimistic about the Wells Fargo Championship heading into the weekend.
Other big names
Mickelson wasn’t the only player to struggled Friday.
Justin Thomas, who is ranked No. 2 in the world and is currently second in the FedEx Cup standings, shot a 2-over 73 on Friday, and is even par heading into Saturday.
Jon Rahm, ranked third in the world, had a good day on Friday, but it was not good enough to make up for his struggles in the opening round. He finished 4-over through two days and was projected to miss the cut.
Xander Schauffele, who is ranked fourth, was even on the day, and 1-over through the first two rounds.
Matt Wallace (67), Gary Woodland (69) and Patrick Rogers (68) are in a three-way tie for first place. They are all 6-under through the first two days.
Kramer Hickok (69) is in fourth at 5-under, and Rory McIlroy (66), Keith Mitchell (71), Scott Piercy (68) and Carlos Ortiz (68) are tied for fifth at 4-under.
Missed the cut
2019 Wells Fargo Championship winner Max Homa will miss the cut. He finished 5-over on Friday and 11-over through two rounds.
Rickie Fowler, who shot a 6-over 77 on Friday, also missed the cut. He was 5-over for the tournament.
Ian Poulter (74), Tony Finau (73) and Francesco Molinari (74) also missed the cut, finishing 4-over for the tournament.