Mickelson, Els have major problems at Quail Hollow
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — What was supposed to be a celebration instead became a disappointment.
Playing in their 100th major championship, Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els suffered through a miserable first round of the 99th PGA Championship on Thursday at Quail Hollow Club.
Mickelson had no birdies and eight bogeys in his 79, the worst round of his 25 appearances in the tournament. Els, 47, the same age as Mickelson, had one birdie but made three double bogeys for an 80.
Tied for 131st, 12 shots behind co-leaders Thorbjorn Olesen and Kevin Kisner, Mickelson is in danger of missing the cut in the PGA for the first time since 1995.
Mickelson’s struggles come on a course he performed well at for years and considers one of his favorites on the PGA Tour. Quail Hollow typically hosts the Wells Fargo Championship.
He won the PGA Championship in 2006 and thus is guaranteed a return next year. Els, who never finished better than third, probably is playing the tournament for a final time.
Co-leader Kisner no longer average
One of the last finishers after a teeing off at 1:55 p.m. local time, five groups from the end, Kisner birdied the last hole to tie Olesen for first after many fans had left the course.
“I’ve just been playing a lot of average golf lately,” Kisner said. “I’m loading better now on the right side [after work with John Tillery] and trying to eliminate some of the push shots I hit.”
Kisner won the Dean & DeLuca Invitational, the former Colonial Invitational, in March.
“I think my rhythmic stroke works best on these greens,” Kisner said. “When they are rolling fast you have perfect speed.”
Kisner’s strategy was to identify a few holes he thought he could birdie and just par the rest.
“I birdied them all today,” Kisner said. “Make a lot of pars, and get to a par five or one of those short par fours, I can do my wedge game and get it to 10 or 12 feet. That’s my plan. Other than that, I’m playing for par.”
Bubba Watson bogeyed six holes on the difficult back nine — the last four are known as The Green Mile — and shot 77.
Defending champion Jimmy Walker shot 81.
Dustin Johnson, Jason Day and Jon Rahm were at 70, three back of the co-leaders. Joost Luiten of the Netherlands had a hole in one on the 186-yard fourth, using a six-iron to one-hop it for an ace. He still shot a 76.
The forecast is for thunderstorms Friday, Saturday, Sunday and even Monday. Officials have discussed extending the tournament if needed.
A STRUGGLING Phil Mickelson had eight bogeys and no birdies in his round of 79 and his string of making the cut in the PGA every year since 1995 is in jeopardy.