It was an eventful first day at Muirfield Village, which was capped off by an incredible charge up the leaderboard by Erik Compton and a dramatic tumble by Phil Mickelson. Lefty blew up on the back nine with an inward 42 that included a stretch where he played the final three holes at 4-over. He posted a score of 79, 7-over and 13 shots back of leader Scott Stallings. It didn't take long for Mickelson to end his week right there, as word quickly came down that he was withdrawing, citing "mental fatigue."
Mickelson typically plays a fuller schedule when compared to the rest of the top names in golf, and he shows up more than he has to as one of the top earners in all of sports. He played a pretty full schedule in May, attending three straight events at Quail Hollow, The Players, and the Byron Nelson. But he then took off for Europe with his wife last week during the Colonial, returning to Ohio for a final tune-up before the U.S. Open, the "white whale" of his career which starts in two weeks at Olympic.
Mickelson is taking a fair amount of incoming fire for his decision to withdraw with a non-physical injury. It's not uncommon to see players with high numbers early in the tournament pull out for "personal reasons" or "fatigue." It's rare to see Mickelson do this, and he admitted it was a violation of a personal policy he typically adheres to:
"I feel like it's the responsibility of a player to see through your commitment and finish the tournament and so forth," Mickelson said. "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."
One can't help but imagine that tournament host Jack Nicklaus is not thrilled with Mickelson's decision.
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