There is still a lot of golf to be played at the Waste Management Phoenix Open (54 holes to be exact), but Phil Mickelson has to be happy with his first round performance. “Lefty” was firing on all cylinders, carding an 11 under par 60 after his first 18 holes. He was a lip-out for birdie on the ninth (his final hole) away from breaking the course record with a 59. As it stands, he still tied the course record with his first round performance.
“Six feet to go, it was in the center,” Mickelson said when asked about his near miss on the final hole. “Three feet to go, it was in the center. A foot to go, it was in the center, and even as it’s approaching the hole, I couldn’t envision which side of the hole it could possibly miss on, and it ended up somehow just dying off at the end, catching the lip.”
Mickelson doesn’t have as big of a lead as one would imagine, though, as he’s only four strokes ahead of a group of five golfers currently sitting a seven under par. That group includes the likes of Ryan Palmer, Brandt Snedeker, Padraig Harrington, Ted Potter, Jr. and Jeff Maggert. Just behind them is a group of 11 golfers at six under par. As you can see, Mickelson will need to keep the heat on, because there a great number of golfers that have the ability to go low and are still within striking distance.
After a few disappointing performances to start the season, I had a feeling “Lefty” would be in top form for the WM Phoenix Open. He is essentially a hometown favorite from his days at Arizona State. He has a great track record at this event and was due to come out of his funk.
There are two stats that can explain why Mickelson was able to put together such a great first round: he is tied for third in greens in regulation and is second in putting average. That means he was putting his tee shots in position to reach the green (even though he only hit just 57.14% of his fairways) and was converting once he was on the putting surface. Mickelson has been streaky over the last few years, but if he can continue this hot streak through Sunday, he’s likely to run away with this one.