Phil Mickelson got off to a great start (birdies on the opening two holes of his first round) but later on tumbled down the leaderboard in an emotional return to the PGA Tour.
He shot rounds of 68, 70, 68, 75 on the Par 70 layout at TPC Southwind to finish with a final score of 281 (+1) and in a tie for 59th.
Not surprisingly after a four week lay-off and with the media frenzy surrounding his comeback, Mickelson’s scorecard was even more colorful than usual:
Phil led the entire field in driving distance (315.6 yds. on average) but struggled with his iron play and especially short game on a golf course that puts a premium on shotmaking and touch on and around the greens. In a post-tournament interview Mickelson stated that “tee to green it was pretty good, but getting the ball in the hole was a difficult task…”
However, it is obvious that the final score was not the first priority for Phil Mickelson at the 2009 St. Jude Classic: Just to see him back on the fairways and greens of the PGA Tour barely four weeks after his wife Amy was diagnosed with breast cancer was a great joy for countless fans all over the world. It must have been a relief for Phil as well to go back to his life as a professional golfer – if only for a few hours every day during the five days of the St. Jude Classic.
Phil will now spend a couple of days at home with his family before heading to New York on Tuesday. Amy Mickelson will not be accompanying her husband to this year’s US Open at Bethpage. The family is planning to go on a short vacation after the year’s second major and then start Amy’s cancer treatment.