Phil Mickelson eyes bigger picture

Updated: June 2, 2012, 12:18 AM ET
By Bob Harig | ESPN.com

DUBLIN, Ohio -- It is not uncommon for players to withdraw from a golf tournament after shooting a poor score, but they don't typically admit that is the reason.

Phil Mickelson did Thursday after shooting a 7-over 79 at the Memorial Tournament, saying he was fatigued after a busy tournament schedule and then a vacation to Europe.

"The course here is in such great shape. It's a beautiful way to get ready for the U.S. Open," Mickelson said. "But I'm hitting it so poorly that I think for me ... I have to look at what's best for me to play in the U.S. Open, and I'm going to take the next few days to kind of rest up.

"I'll probably go see [teacher] Butch [Harmon] and see if I can get things straightened out."

Mickelson was at even par after a birdie at the 11th hole but then played the last seven holes in 7 over, with five bogeys and a double bogey. He shot a 42 on the back nine.

It was Mickelson's worst score on the PGA Tour since a 79 at the 2004 Canadian Open.

Mickelson played the Wells Fargo Championship, The Players Championship and the Byron Nelson Championship in succession, then last week went to Italy and France to celebrate his wife Amy's 40th birthday. He returned for a corporate outing Tuesday on Long Island and said, "I think I'm a bit mentally fatigued."

A four-time major champion, Mickelson has a record five runner-up finishes at the U.S. Open, a tournament he has yet to win. The 112th U.S. Open begins June 14 at the Olympic Club in San Francisco.

Mickelson could not recall ever withdrawing during a tournament when he was not injured.

"I feel like it's the responsibility of a player to see through your commitment and finish the tournament and so forth, and I'm kind of overruling that just a touch because I'm trying to think big picture on what's the best way for me to get ready for the Open," he said.

"I'm disappointed with how I played today, but I think I need ... I've got to be more big-picture oriented and think about the Open and what's best to get my best golf out there, and I need the next few days to rest up a bit."

Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler, his playing partners, laid the blame for his withdrawal on fans who continually distracted Mickelson by snapping photos with cellphone cameras.

"Phil's a great player and a great champion, and it just took him out of his game. It's sad. It's sad that cellphones can make or break a championship," said Watson, who shot a 75.

Watson said the tour rule on cellphone cameras isn't working. Fans are allowed to have them on the course if they are put on vibrate and used only in specific areas.

"It makes it very difficult," he said. "Ever since they made that rule that cellphones are allowed, it's just not fun playing."

Fowler, the third member of the marquee threesome that was followed by a huge gallery, said the clicks and snaps of the phone cameras affected Mickelson in particular.

"There were a few times when we had to back off and reset. You could see Phil was a little fatigued and was having trouble blocking it out a bit."

Police said about 50 phones were confiscated from the Watson-Fowler gallery Friday. According to the Golf Channel, volunteers estimated they took more than 100 devices from the gallery following Tiger Woods, Fred Couples and Bill Haas on Friday.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Bob Harig | email

Golf Writer, ESPN.com

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