By BOB REDD
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS —
One of the big questions coming into the 2013 Greenbrier Classic was whether or not Phil Mickelson would play into the weekend. In two previous appearances at The Old White, Mickelson’s time on the fame course came to an end on Fridays.
Would 2013 be different?
In Thursday’s first round Lefty shot a four-over 72. Friday he started well on the back nine but went flat on the front nine and finished with a 2-under 68, leaving him at two over par 142 and once again failing to make the cut for the third consecutive year.
“I played really well today,” Mickelson said. “I hit a lot of good shots and I think I’ve figured out why I’ve struggled here. It’s my distance control with my irons I haven’t figured out yet.
“We’re a couple thousand feet, we’ve been practicing at sea level, so obviously it’s going to go longer. It’s the same altitude as Phoenix, but it goes different yardage and I haven’t quite figured it out.”
Despite his lack of success in White Sulphur Springs, Lefty made it sound like he thinks highly of the course and will be back.
“I think it’s one of the best architecturally designed golf courses that we’ve played,” Mickelson commented. “I’m looking at every hole, studying it, learning from it. I thought the course set-up was fabulous this year. I just think it’s a great track. It’s a wonderful golf course and hotel experience.”
There were struggles and successes by some of the game’s big names on day two of the Classic.
Greenbrier Golf Pro Emeritus Tom Watson will be playing into the weekend. Watson, 63 years old, followed his first round two-under 68 with a second round one-under 69 and stands at three-under 137.
“I played very well from tee to green,” Watson said. “My putter was very balky today. I did make one good one on the last hole. I changed my stroke and that gives me some confidence about maybe what I did with that stroke is maybe what I need to do because I was struggling on the greens today.
“I hit the ball very, very well and like yesterday, I missed a lot of putts. I three-putted three times today and it was kind of an ugly day on the greens, but a real good day for the ball striking category.”
Another Watson, Bubba, who won last year’s Masters, finished with the same score as the legendary Watson. Bubba, after a two-under par round on Thursday, finished one under Friday and like Tom Watson, checked in at 137, three under par. Bubba was not pleased with his overall game.
“I hit the ball great again, just made no putts, only made two birdies, one bogey. Just not making the putts,” Bubba Watson said. “To share the lead or to move up the leaderboard you’ve got to make putts and I’m just not making putts. I had a lot of good iron shots, lot of good tee shots but not making putts in two days.”
Another tour leader who did not fare well and did not make the cut was Vijay Singh. Singh was three-over in Thursday’s opening round and shot an even par 70 on Friday to finish at a 3-over 143.
Last year’s winner, Ted Potter Jr., fired a four-under 66 on Friday. Coupled with his one-under 69 on Thursday, Potter sits at 4-under 135 headed into the weekend.
“I got off to a good start on No. 10, bounced back on 11, made a birdie there. I birdied 18. Eighteen, I guess I like a lot,” Potter said. “Hit a pretty good shot in there both days now, hit a couple good shots on eight and nine, chipped in on No. 7 to make birdie there and come back and hit it close on eight to get another nice birdie coming in. All in all it was a good day for me.”
Potter was paired with Mickelson the first two rounds and spoke of his fellow golfer.
“I just said thanks,” Potter said. “That’s the first time I ever played with him. I don’t know what to say to him like that. I know I guess it’s the third time he missed the cut, but I’m sure he’ll be all right, he’ll get over it and be back next year and try to break the curse.”
Scott Stallings, winner of the 2011 Greenbrier Classic, along with Davis Love III were with the Watsons at 137.
John Daly withdrew after the first round, having shot a five-over 75 on Thursday.
—Contact Bob Redd at