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Woods & Mickelson Start Strong, McIlroy Struggles

Par for the course, so far. (See what I did there?)

Par for the course, so far. (See what I did there?)

Going into Round 2 of the British Open in Scotland, Americans Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson will begin the day on Friday tied in 9th place at two under. There’s a five-way tie for 4th place at -3 and a two-way tie for 2nd at -4 under. Zach Johnson sits alone atop the leader board at -5 under.

Despite the opening round going over five hours, Woods was in good spirits after a very long day. The bleachers at Muirfield were half empty by the time he reached the 18th hole around 7:40 p.m., but overall he was pleased with his performance.

Woods noted that the course conditions deteriorated throughout the day and said the 69 he shot was as good as it gets in those conditions. He was paired with Graeme McDowell, who complimented Woods’ performance, calling it “phenomenal,” and said that he felt he played well, finishing the day at +4.

Phil Mickelson also shot a 69 on Thursday, but he did in far more favorable conditions than Woods. Mickelson’s 9:45 a.m. tee time and was wrapping up his round by the time Woods teed off at 2:45 p.m. Meaning that he enjoyed the best weather of the day. Not that it stopped him from complaining about everything.

Mick called the setup “overdone” and complained about brown spots in various greens throughout the course. He added: “I got really lucky to play early because I at least had a fighting chance. … I feel bad for these guys that have to go out and play it (this afternoon) because they’re at a distinct disadvantage. … I don’t see anyone on the afternoon with a realistic chance (at shooting 69”

[Insert Tiger Woods smirk here]

Heh. Heh. Heh.

Heh. Heh. Heh.

Speaking of smirking, Irishman Rory McIlory’s woes continued on Thursday as he finished Round 1 in a seven-way tie for 134th place at +8. He absolutely imploded with a series of missed shots on the back nine, where he ultimately shot an abysmal 42.

Barring a miracle comeback, McIlroy’s poor performance has essentially put him out of contention after just one day of golf. After so much success early in his career, the 24-year-old is struggling in trying to come to grips with the slump that has plagued him since wining the PGA Championship—by a record eight strokes—in August 2012.

That was the last bit of success McIlroy enjoyed. So far the 2013 season has been one disaster after another and the golf prodigy can’t even comprehend the last 11 months. Said McIlroy: “It’s a very alien feeling … It’s something I’ve never had to deal with before. … I’m trying to focus and trying to concentrate. But, yeah, I can’t really fathom it at the minute and it’s hard to stand up here and tell you guys what’s really wrong.”

McIlroy described himself as feeling “brain dead” and “unconscious” at times on the course. He hopes to physically play his way out of the slump, but didn’t rule out the possibility of addressing the mental aspect of his game. Referring to sports psychologist Bob Rotella, McIlroy said: “I have worked with Bob before a little bit. And, yes, it could be beneficial to see someone like that again. We’ll see.”

This comes amid reports that his two-year relationship with Danish tennis player Caroline Wozniacki may be on the rocks. Their coupling has faced increasing scrutiny in recent months as the careers of both McIlroy and Wozniacki have suffered sharp downturns, particularly in 2013.

Poor kids…


Round 2 action begins shortly, so we’ll soon see if Woods and Mickelson can keep up the momentum they built in Round 1. Mickelson and McIlroy are one of the last to tee off today at 2:45 p.m., while Woods and McDowell are set to hit the links at 9:44 a.m.

It will be really interesting to see how Mickelson performs in the impossible conditions he was lamenting yesterday—the weather is expected to be much the same.

Click here for the complete current leader board of the 2013 British Open.

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