Sat, Jan 21, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Rookie Bozzelli takes lead at CareerBuilder

Reuters

The US’ Dominic Bozzelli, in only his sixth PGA Tour start, holed out from 113 yards to eagle the par-four 14th en route to a one-shot lead after Thursday’s opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge in La Quinta, California.

Bozzelli upstaged high-profile names, such as five-time major winner Phil Mickelson and 2011 champion Jhonattan Vegas, as he fired an eight-under-par 64 on the PGA West Stadium Course, one of three venues hosting the pro-am event.

The 25-year-old from New York state broke clear of a tightly-bunched leaderboard by sinking a 14-foot birdie putt on his final hole, the par-four ninth, to cap a bogey-free day in the California desert.

Venezuelan Vegas and Americans Harold Varner III, Patton Kizzire and Hudson Swafford opened with 65s, while fan favorite Mickelson, competing for the first time since recovering from a pair of off-season surgeries, carded a 68.

“That jump-started [my round] for sure,” Bozzelli told Golf Channel about the eagle on his fifth hole of the day. “I made two big par saves today too. On 15, I got up and down from 85 yards and the other one was on two ... made a 12-footer to save par.

“Those were huge momentum boosts to keep the round going. I was able to make some putts coming in and [get] off to a good start,” he said. “I’ve been working hard, doing all the right things on and off the course, training hard, so it was nice to see it pay off a little bit.”

Mickelson, who had surgeries for a sports hernia in October last year and last month, was delighted to mark his return to competition with five birdies and a lone bogey, despite feeling a little rusty with his game.

“I thought it was phenomenal,” the 46-year-old American said. “I struck it horrible, but I scored like out of my mind, so I am very happy with it.”

Taiwan’s Pan Cheng-tseng finished the round tied for 34th after carding a three-under 69.

Additional reporting by staff writer

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