Friday, September 04, 2009

NORTON, Mass. (AP) — Phil Mickelson will play in the BMW Championship outside of Chicago next week - maybe.

Mickelson's spokesman told reporters Friday after the first round of the Deutsche Bank Championship that the player had committed to the third tournament in the PGA Tour's four-event playoff, but that the plans were day-to-day. Mickelson made the decision after talking to his wife, Amy, who is recovering from breast cancer.

Just minutes earlier, after the completion of his even-par 71, Mickelson told a reporter that he hadn't made up his mind. Then, after being told by a PGA Tour official that the deadline was Friday evening, Mickelson said: "I guess I'm not playing Chicago."

He signed dozens of autographs for fans but did not stop to elaborate on his plans.

Mickelson has played only four tournaments since the U.S. Open in June after taking time off to be with his wife and his mother, Mary, who was also diagnosed with breast cancer.

Mickelson, the 2007 winner at the TPC of Boston, is 10th in the FedEx Cup standings and might not need to play next weekend to place among the top 30 who qualify for the Tour Championship.

MAJOR UPSET (STOMACH): Scott Verplank had a rough night after a bad batch of lobster ravioli, and it might have been just the thing to propel him onto the leaderboard at the Deutsche Bank Championship.

Verplank said he got only a few hours of interrupted sleep on Thursday night coming down with a bad stomach ache.

"I was really just kind of hoping to survive today," Verplank said after shooting a 6-under 65 to finish the first round tied for third, two strokes behind the leaders. "You know what, maybe that's what I needed because I was pretty relaxed and I was more worried about putting one foot in front of the next one versus anything else."

Verplank's dining partner: Steve Stricker, who shot 63 and was tied for the lead with Jim Furyk.

Stricker said he felt fine.

"Must have been all right for him," he said.

So, are the two going to go back for another round of lobster ravioli?

"I promise you: I'm not," Verplank said. "You would think (it) would be really good up here right next to where all the lobsters live. But it didn't work for me. Anyway, we'll probably go out to eat again tonight, but I'm going to eat something a lot more bland."

HAD HIS PHIL: Mickelson had a 44-foot putt for birdie on the ninth hole and a chance to make the turn at 2 under.

Four putts later, he was 2 over and walking in stunned silence to the back nine.

Mickelson hit a textbook drive 311 yards to the middle of the fairway on the par-4, 472-yard dogleg left. His second shot was in the center of the green, with a long putt back toward the pin in the front right.

Mickelson, who won the tournament in 2007, was wide of the hole but only needed to sink the 3 1/2-footer to save par. He put that one about five feet past the hole and then, after picking up his ball and catching his breath, slid his third put past the lip.

He tapped in from 6 inches for a double-bogey 6.

EASY EAGLES: One of the most forgiving holes on the course on Friday was No. 4, a 298-yard par 4 that gave up seven eagles and 48 birdies to the 99 players. With a scoring average of 3.48, it was the second-easiest on the day.

But the players were awakened when they got to the next hole, a 466-yard, par 4 that was the toughest, with a scoring average of 4.182.

The easiest was No. 18, a 528-yard par 5 that gave up three eagles and 55 birdies but only four bogeys and two double bogeys.

DIVOTS: Troy Matteson, who earned the 125th and final spot in The Barclays and used a top 20 finish to reach the second round of the playoffs, opened with a 5-under 66 and was tied for eighth. If he stays where he is, he would qualify for Week 3 at the BMW Championship. ... It was Mickelson's 400th career PGA Tour start. ... It's the second time this year Furyk has been atop the leaderboard after the first round. The other time was in Tampa, where he followed a 65 with a 78. ... Defending champion Vijay Singh, who also won in 2004 and finished second in '06, shot 67.

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