The what-if game plays well on this course with a lot of dangerous water holes. Phil Mickelson, the defending champion, was one of those lamenting his missed opportunities after his third-round 71. He was still within striking distance of the leaders, two under and five shots back, but he was disappointed that he had yet to shoot a really low round. (He carded a 70 on Thursday and a 73 on Friday.)
"I’ve played well enough, but I haven’t shot the right number," he said. "I could’ve shot 67 or 68 today, and I shot 71."
Saturday’s biggest error was a poor tee shot that sailed way left off the 14th tee and into a pond. He made a double-bogey 6. "I was trying to hit a low drive like I did on 11 and like I did on 14 yesterday, and I blocked it," he said. "It was just terrible."
Mickelson admitted that he’d begun to feel ill during Friday’s round and that he developed a sore throat Friday night. So he received some antibiotics, threw down some Advil and conserved his energy during the third round, which was played in 92-degree heat, the hottest day in Players history.
His wife, Amy, stood nearby while Phil signed autographs after his round on Saturday. She said she didn’t know what was wrong with him, but that it could be allergies, it could be anything.
"I’m just going to write down that it was your cooking," I told her.
She laughed and answered, "I don’t cook, so it can’t be that." (Photo: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)