Phil Mickelson flirts with, falls short of 59 at Deutsche Bank
NORTON, Mass. -- Lefty stole the Tiger Woods/Adam Scott/Phil Mickelson Show Friday at TPC Boston when the world's third-ranked golfer teed it up with the two men ranked ahead of him in the much-anticipated opening round of the Deutsche Bank Championship.
Mickelson had the course record, as well as the magic number 59, in his sights after a sizzling start to the second of four FedExCup playoff events. He had to settle for an 8-under 63, however, when he hooked his 18th tee shot way offline. No worries for high-flying Phil the Thrill, though, who began his round on the 10th hole and walked away with a hard-won bogey on No. 9 for his last of the day.
Woods, the worldwide leader in golf rankings as well as FedExCup points, posted a 68 while Scott scuffled to a 73.
"This is just day one. It was a hot nine holes [for Mickelson], 7-under through nine," Woods said after the first of a two-day grouping of the best three players in golf, "but you still have 63 more [holes] to go."
Mickelson made birdies in his first two attempts on holes 10 and 11 and, when he turned at 7-under 28 -- tying his lowest nine-hole score ever, according to PGATour.com -- the 59 watch was on. The golfer himself began believing he might go sub-60 when he birdied the 17th (his eighth) to get to 6-under.
"After the turn, after I birdied 18, I felt 'I’ve got to shoot 5-under the backside to shoot 59,'" Mickelson said. "I thought it was realistic."
The magic fairy dust began to wear off when a less-than-stellar gap wedge shot put him in the bunker at No. 1. The five-time major champion rebounded from his first of two bogeys on the day , though, with an eagle on the par-5 second hole after his approach shot left him a kick-in two-footer.
A string of five pars followed, however, including one on the driveable fourth that Mickelson said ended his run at 59.
"I wasn’t too worried about shooting 59, I was more worried about trying to keep it in the low 60s to get it as low as I could," Mickelson said. "When I didn’t birdie four, that’s when I stopped thinking about 59."
A birdie on the 298-yard fourth hole, reachable off the tee, would have given him a chance. An uncharacteristic flub from underneath the green left him short, though, and he signed for a par.
"I thought [the ground] was going to be firmer where the club would skid under," he said. "It turned out to be sandy and I went right underneath it. I should have flopped it, but I thought the ground was firm enough where it would come out okay."
With 59 no longer in the mix, Mickelson birdied the par-3 eighth and needed another birdie on the last to match the course record of 61 shared by Mike Weir (2008, first round) and Vijay Singh (2006, third round).
When his tee shot on No. 9 went far off course and into heavy rough on the right, Mickelson went into save mode. He found the ball and, without needing a penalty shot, got to the green in three ... but ended his opening round with a bogey.
"You know," Mickelson said, "I just mentally went blank for a swing. It happens and I try to just forget it. It only cost me one shot."
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