CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – Phil Mickelson is flirting with Quail Hollow Club again.
Mickelson has finished in the top five of the Wells Fargo Championship eight times without winning – it’s not exactly his U.S. Open frustration but it’s a similar theme – and by shooting a 7-under-par 64 in the third round Saturday, he’s given himself another chance on Sunday.
So what is it about Quail Hollow and Mickelson that clicks?
It’s one of those places that fits Mickelson though he was admittedly frustrated and wandering through the first two rounds when he was uncomfortably close to the cut line. He felt better arriving at the course Saturday and what he expected to be a good day became a very good day.
“I don’t know what the difference was,” said Mickelson, whose best career score at Quail Hollow was a third-round 63 in 2014. ‘I just felt very unfocused the first two days. I didn’t feel like I was really committed to shots, I didn’t feel like I was really great — I didn’t have great focus. I don’t know how else to say it.”
It’s an interesting relationship Mickelson has with Quail Hollow. He has played the event every year since 2004, attesting to his comfort level, but he has also been outspoken about the course setup at times. He has complained about the severity of some greens, once going so far as to chip a ball from the putting surface on the 18th green to protest the setup.
The good news is Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and Mickelson have developed a nice relationship and Harris has used Mickelson’s suggestions at times to make course adjustments.
As for the latest version of Quail Hollow, which debuted three new front-nine holes last August at the PGA Championship, Mickelson misses the previous version which offered more birdie holes.
“It’s just a hard golf course,” Mickelson said. “I mean, it’s just a really hard golf course. A lot of the old holes that were birdie holes have been made into very difficult pars and it’s just hard to get at it.”