|ESPN.com: Golf||[Print without images]|
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Phil Mickelson declined Thursday to disclose his personal reasons for arriving at the BMW Championship without playing a practice round.
Mickelson, who is sixth in the FedEx Cup standings, didn't get to Chicago until Wednesday night and teed off at Conway Farms on Thursday morning having never seen the course. He managed to shoot a 1-under 70 and trails leader Brandt Snedeker by seven strokes.
After the round, Mickelson said he could not discuss why he arrived late. When asked if it was due to a family matter, he said: "Everything is fine. I'm here now, I'm ready to play.
"But I just needed to be a little cautious this first round before I attack it tomorrow.''
Mickelson admitted, however, that skipping the pro-am and not playing a practice round was not ideal.
"Yeah, it wasn't the way I wanted to prepare for an event, having not seen a course,'' Mickelson said. "I wanted to get in here and play a practice round Tuesday and Wednesday, and obviously I wasn't able to do that. But Bones (caddie Jim Mackay, who was here Tuesday) guided me around here. I'll feel more comfortable tomorrow. I'll have to get a little bit more aggressive. I think I was a little cautious today not knowing what to expect.
"But the golf course is in wonderful shape. The greens are spectacular. They're difficult to make putts because they have a lot of double-breaking putts. They move kind of both ways a lot of times, so it's difficult to make them. But if I hit it close enough, maybe I'll be able to make them.''
Players who skip the pro-am are subject to disqualification from the tournament, although they're allowed to opt out twice during the year and must engage in some sponsor function instead. Mickelson did that earlier this year at the Houston Open and alerted tournament officials on Tuesday that he would do so again this week.
The third-ranked Mickelson has won three times worldwide this year, including the Open Championship, his fifth major title. He tied for sixth at the Barclays three weeks ago, then opened the Deutsche Bank Championship with a 63 before fading to a tie for 41st.
"I don't' feel like I'm sharp,'' he said. "I don't feel like I'm prepared, and I'm going to have to kind of play my way into this tournament because I wasn't ready to attack from the start.''