A day of desert drama for Mickelson
Phil Mickelson made news in California by talking taxes. He made news in Arizona on Thursday by playing golf.
Mickelson opened the Waste Management Phoenix Open with an 11-under-par 60, one agonizing stroke off the PGA Tour record.
Here’s how Golfweek chronicled Mickelson’s run at tour history as it unfolded:
12:58 p.m. ET
A frost delay pushed back tee times about an hour, but we have now been under way for a good 2-1/2 hours. And the highlight so far is Mickelson’s strong start.
Lefty is 5 under through seven holes. He birdied his first four holes of the round (Nos. 10-13) and is tied for the lead with Gary Woodland and Ryan Palmer.
Mickelson tied for 26th at this tournament last season, tied for 29th in 2011 and tied for 24th in 2010.
1:11 p.m. ET
Mickelson has now taken sole possession of the lead at 6 under. After a birdie on the famous — and raucous — par-3 16th hole, Lefty birdied the par-4 17th. Bo Van Pelt set the course record with a 12-under 59 in Wednesday’s pro-am. Mickelson is on good pace to challenge that mark with six birdies already and 10 holes to play, including the par-5 third.
1:41 p.m. ET
The birdies just keep coming for Phil, who is now 8 under through 10 holes. Lefty has sandwiched two pars with four birdies on each side. He birdied his first four holes (Nos. 10-13) and has birdied his past four holes (Nos. 16-18 and 1). It’s safe to say we’re officially on 59 watch. Stuart Appleby, who shot 59 in the final round to win the 2010 Greenbrier Classic, posted the most recent sub-60 score on Tour.
2:16 p.m. ET
Mickelson made just his third par of the round at No. 2. That’s because he’s made nine birdies, including most recently at No. 3. Lefty is 9 under through 12 holes, and 59 — or fewer — is looking like a possibility.
2:29 p.m. ET
Mickelson just birdied the par-3 fourth to move to 10 under through 13 holes. He needs to birdie two of his final five holes to shoot 59. Mickelson’s lowest round at TPC Scottsdale is 60 (29-31 in 2005).
2:42 p.m. ET
Mickelson made par at No. 5, so he’ll need to birdie half of his remaining four holes to shoot 59 at the par-71 TPC Scottsdale. When Lefty has shot 29 or better for nine holes, he’s won five times.
2:55 p.m. ET
He’s slowing down just a bit with a second straight par at the par-4 sixth, meaning Mickelson has only three holes to make two more birdies to get to 59.
2:58 p.m. ET
Mickelson just stuck his tee shot to about 8 feet at the par-3 seventh. He’s 10 under right now and needing two birdies in his last three holes to shoot 59.
3:04 p.m. ET
Mickelson drains his 8 footer for birdie at No. 7 to move to 11 under. He needs one more birdie for 59. His previous low round of the season so far is 66.
3:10 p.m. ET
Mickelson moves to No. 8 needing just one more birdie to shoot 59. Only four players to this point in the tournament have birdied the hole. Lefty’s drive is bombed down the fairway.
3:13 p.m. ET
Phil played the par 4s in 1 over at last year’s Phoenix Open. His approach at the par-4 eighth ends up about 18 feet from the hole.
3:14 p.m. ET
Mickelson gets a good look at the line from both Jason Dufner and Rickie Fowler. But despite putting a great line on his 18 footer, Phil leaves it just short. He’ll move to the par-4 ninth at 11 under, needing a birdie to shoot 59.
3:22 p.m. ET
After leaving that birdie putt short at No. 8, Phil crushes his final drive of the day right down the center of the fairway at No. 9.
3:28 p.m. ET
So Phil’s bid for 59 will come down to a 25 footer for birdie at No. 9. He’s been locked-in, though, with the putter today.
3:33 p.m. ET
Mickelson came about as close as you can come to a 59. Lefty’s bid at breaking 60 ended on a cruel lip-out on the ninth green. Mickelson put a great line on his 25 footer, but the putt caught the right edge and lipped out about 220 degrees. Phil finishes with an 11-under 60 and went to the clubhouse with a four-shot lead over Bill Haas, Ryan Palmer, Brandt Snedeker and Padraig Harrington. Phil tied the course record of 60 and also tied his career-best.
3:45 p.m. ET
Here’s what Mickelson had to say about just missing a birdie putt on his final hole that would have given him a 59:
"The last 6 feet, it was right on glide slope. it should’ve been right in the middle. The thing is I’m ecstatic to shoot 60, I’m excited and so forth. But you don’t get chances to shoot 59 very often and to have that putt on-line, I’m kind of mortified that that didn’t go in because you just don’t get those chances very often.
"I couldn’t of envisioned what side of the hole it would’ve missed on when it was a foot out. It looked like it was right in the middle and it didn’t go in. But I hit a ton of putts today, I hit a lot of great shots and I drove it very well."