Scottsdale, AZ (Sports Network) - Phil Mickelson came within a horse-shoed
putt of recording the sixth 59 in PGA Tour history on Thursday at the Waste
Management Phoenix Open.
Mickelson entered the last hole at TPC Scottsdale's Stadium Course needing a
birdie to make history, but when his 26-foot putt lipped around the cup he
settled for an 11-under 60 and a 4-stroke lead.
"You don't have chances to shoot 59 often," said Mickelson. "To have that putt
on line I'm kind of mortified that it didn't go in."
Although the birdie chance didn't fall, Mickelson still managed to match his
career-low round and tie the course record, which he equaled in 2005 when he
won this tournament for the second time.
World No. 7 Brandt Snedeker, Padraig Harrington, Ryan Palmer, Ted Potter Jr.
and Jeff Maggert all carded a 7-under 64 before the opening round was
suspended on account of darkness. Play was delayed an hour at the start due to
Nick Watney and Humana Challenge winner Brian Gay highlight a group of 11
knotted in seventh place at minus-6. Of the 11, only John Mallinger and John
Rollins have yet to finish their rounds.
Vijay Singh, a two-time winner at this event, withdrew prior to the start of
the first round. The 49-year-old Fijian has been the subject of scrutiny since
he admitted to using deer antler spray, a product that includes a banned
substance under the PGA Tour's Anti-Doping Policy. He cited a back injury as
the reason for this withdrawal.
Mickelson, himself involved in a minor controversy last week over his comments
about state and federal tax laws, opened on the 10th tee Thursday and put
himself in spectacular position with a sparkling 29 on his outward nine. The
lefty birdied his first four holes before recording pars on Nos. 14 and 15.
He bounced back with another birdie on the 16th, to the delight of the masses
in the grandstands, and then turned the trick again on each of his next three
That run left Mickelson 8-under through 10, but he wasn't done, as he
rebounded from a par on No. 2 by sticking his approach on the par-5 third
within two feet and tapping in for birdie. On the par-3 fourth, he knocked his
tee shot to seven feet and drained the putt to reach 10-under.
After pars on Nos. 5 and 6, Mickelson moved within one stroke of history on
the par-3 seventh, where his tee shot caught a slope on the right side of the
green and eventually rested seven feet from the cup. He sent home the birdie
effort to hit minus-11 with two holes remaining.
In the end, though, it wasn't meant to be, as a pair of near misses robbed
Mickelson of a milestone.
On No. 8, -- a par-4 -- he hit the fairway off the tee and sent his approach
18 feet to the left of the hole, but his birdie roll came up inches short.
Then it was on to No. 9, another par-4, and again Mickelson found the fairway.
This time, though, he left himself 26 feet with his approach and his ensuing
putt tracked the cup before catching the right lip and horse-shoeing back
towards its sender, who could only clutch his head in disbelief.
"Well, 60 is awesome," Mickelson continued. "Last time I shot 60 here in '05,
I birdied like the last three or four holes just to do that, and I was
ecstatic, and I'm ecstatic to shoot 60. But there's a big difference between
60 and 59. Not that big between 60 and 61, there really isn't. But there's a
big barrier, a Berlin Wall barrier, between 59 and 60."
NOTES: Mickelson also won this tournament in 1996. He and Zach Johnson are the
only players in PGA Tour history to have shot 60 or better on more than one
occasion ... The five PGA Tour players to record a 59 are: Stuart Appleby,
Paul Goydos, David Duval, Chip Beck and Al Geiberger ... Defending champion
Kyle Stanley is 2-under through 16 holes.
The Sports Network