Thursday, January 31, 2013

Phil Mickelson fires 60 in first round of Waste Management Phoenix Open

Phil Mickelson, returning to his college town, seemed to have some home cooking going in Thursday's opening round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open.  Mickelson, who struggled with his driver at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, discovered something earlier this week with a new Razr Fit Extreme driver from Callaway and it paid off. 

Mickelson, who attended Arizona State University and won as an amateur in the state of Arizona, opened the tournament with four straight birdies.  A few pars followed before three straight birdies to close out his first 9 holes.  Mickelson, who began at hole 10, finished the back 9 in 29 shots at -7.

An opening birdie on his front nine saw Mickelson climb to eight-under par through 10, which rose to 11-under par through 16 holes after an excellent iron shot at 7.  Mickelson would have two chances at a birdie and a 59.  On hole 8, Phil managed to find the green in regulation with a twenty foot putt.  The putt was right on line but came up two rolls short.

On hole 9, Mickelson's 18th, a solid drive turned into another twenty footer for birdie.  After reading the putt, Mickelson hit what looked to be a solid putt.  When the ball was about six feet from the hole, Mickelson raised his club in celebration, as the putt looked like it was center cut.  However, a mean stroke of luck saw the ball break right at the end and catch the lip.  It looked like it may still fall, but, alas, it did not.  Mickelson settled for what had to have been a bittersweet 60.

Mickelson played behind the pro-am group of Bo Van Pelt yesterday and watched Van Pelt fire his own 59.  That, along with the new found driving game, gave Mickelson the motivation to go out and shoot low.

Mickelson currently holds a 4-stroke lead over five players, including Brandt Snedeker and Padraig Harrington, who is making his 2013 PGA Tour debut.  Nine more players are tied at 6-under par and five back of Mickelson.  The tournament continues with the second round tomorrow, where scoring conditions again look like they'll be ideal.

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