A rough Masters start for Mickelson

AUGUSTA, Ga. - If there was one word to describe Phil Mickelson's opening round Thursday in the Masters, it probably was misjudgment.

The three-time winner at Augusta National Golf Club blamed mental mistakes for his pair of 7s - at the par-4 seventh hole and the par-5 15th - in a 4-over-par round of 76 that put him in danger of missing the 36-hole cut Friday.

"There were possibilities for low scores, and I actually played well," Mickelson said. "I just made a lot of little mental errors. I made a lot of little mistakes around the green, but I didn't hit anything unsolid. I hit them solid. I just misjudged the shot."

At the seventh, his birdie chip rolled off the green and he had to chip again, finishing the hole with a three-putt. He deposited his third shot at 15 into the water and doubled there.

Mickelson, who withdrew two weeks ago from the PGA Tour event in San Antonio, Texas, with a pulled side muscle, said the bad shots were a sign that he wasn't competitively sharp. But he remains confident in the way he's hitting the ball.

"I feel solid with my ball-striking. I feel great with the putter," he said. "I hit all those chips solid and flush, but I misjudged them. I was really off today. It was very disappointing."


Father and son

In the first Masters round to feature a father and son in the competition at the same time, Kevin Stadler fired a 70 and bested his father, 1982 Masters champion Craig Stadler, by 12 strokes.

Playing in his first Masters, 34-year-old Kevin Stadler carded four birdies and two bogeys. He said later that his father thought it better that he didn't provide much advice.

"I think he was really wanting me to find my own way around here," he said.

Craig Stadler, 60, bogeyed nine holes and doubled another in a round of 82. He said that his son hits the ball well enough and that his performance this weekend will depend on how well he putts.

As for his own round, he was succinct. "I played like a moron," he said.


A celebratory start

Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Gary Player started the Masters with their annual ceremonial tee shot off the first hole. Even though their glory days have passed, they are still competitive.

"We have played a lot of golf together," Nicklaus said. "We have all enjoyed it. We have all competed hard against each other. It's amazing, even a tee shot like this, the question was asked who hit it further, who did this, still competing. It's kind of fun."

As for Thursday, Player said: "I think Jack outdrove me by a yard or two. But he did hitch on a sprinkler; you didn't see that."