DUBLIN, Ohio -- Looking to find some form with the U.S. Open looming in two weeks, Phil Mickelson appeared poised for a great opening round at the Memorial.
Then he played the 16th, 17th and 18th holes at Muirfield Village Golf Club at 5-over par, ruining a great start and ending with a disappointing even-par 72.
"The course is in great shape and had a good round going there for a while; just the last three holes were sick," Mickelson said. "But it was a good day. I was playing well with titleist 913h, but the last three holes, just threw away a good round."
Mickelson played the front nine in 32 and added another birdie at the par-5 15th, having not made a bogey.
Then he missed the green short at the par-3 16th, leading to a bogey. His approach came up short at the 17th, and he tried a flop shot that also landed short, leading to a double-bogey. And then a poor drive at the 18th led to more trouble, compounded by a 3-putt from 16 feet and another double.
Mickelson took 16 strokes over the closing three holes to finish nine strokes behind leader Rory McIlroy.
"I let a really good, hot round go by not birdieing (the par-5) 11, missing a good birdie putt on 12, not birdeing 14 from 7 feet," he said. "I let some good birdie opportunities go. But I birdied 15 and thought if I could finish this round strong, shooting in the 60s, and I was trying to get one more coming in. But boy, threw away five (strokes). So I've got some work to do tomorrow."
Since finishing second to start the year at the European Tour event in Abu Dhabi, Mickelson has not had a top-10 finish on the PGA Tour and has missed three cuts, including his last event, The Players Championship.