The Deutsche Bank Championship is known for its friendly-scoring conditions, and it lived up to its expectation early on, as Phil Mickelson opened the tournament with a phenomenal round of 63, eight-under par.
Mickelson, who last month won the Open Championship for the first time in his Hall of Fame career, started play on the back nine, and birdied his first two holes. After two pars, he put together another streak of five birdies before his first bogey of the day on the first hole. An eagle on the par-five second hole started the real buzz around the course, though, as suddenly the magic number of 59 was realistically within reach.
It was almost disappointing when Mickelson went on to make five-straight birdies and 59 fell out of reach. Still, despite his bogey on the closing ninth hole, he is still the clubhouse leader at the time of this writing, and he’ll be in great shape to start the second round regardless.
Mickelson’s performance is even more impressive when you consider who he was paired with. The early threesome included Tiger Woods and Adam Scott, meaning the three top players in both the world ranking and the FedEx Cup points race were together, a sight not often seen even in the playoffs. Woods played well despite concerns about his back injury from last week, carding a three-under 68. Scott, last week’s winner, underachieved on a course known for birdie opportunities, and is currently tied for 86th at two-over par.
Always one of the biggest fan favorites on the PGA Tour, Mickelson has been playing some of the best golf of his career this year, and has put his name firmly in the discussion for Player Of The Year awards. If he can keep up this type of play through the weekend, he could well take over the playoff points lead and move another step closer to the season title. I can’t imagine a more fitting way to finish for one of the best guys in golf.