PGA: Mickelson shares the lead in Norton

Reuters, NORTON, Massachusetts

Sun, Sep 01, 2013 - Page 18

A red-hot Phil Mickelson fired a brilliant front-nine 28 on Friday that gave him a share of the first-round lead at the Deutsche Bank Championship.

Mickelson started early on the 10th tee and went a sizzling seven-under through his opening nine holes as he quickly showed how easy scoring could be on the soft greens at the TPC Boston, before closing with an eight-under-par 63.

“I played really well, obviously putted really well,” said Mickelson, who admitted that he had considered his chances of shooting just the sixth 59 on the PGA Tour.

However, with the shadows falling, England’s Brian Davis, bogey-free throughout his round, drained a curling 25-foot putt on his final hole to finish with two consecutive birdies.

The Open champion Mickelson’s hopes of a truly remarkable score were undone by bogeys on the first and last holes of his back nine, although an eagle at the par-five second ensured he did not undo much of his outstanding start.

Mickelson, the world No. 3, was grouped with Tiger Woods and Adam Scott, ranked first and second in the world respectively, and he set the perfect tone with a 19-foot putt for birdie on his opening hole.

The left-hander birdied every hole on the back nine except the par-four 12th and 13th.

However, Mickelson’s round could have unraveled on his final hole, the par-four ninth, where he drove far right into the trees and clambered into the woods where he characteristically managed to blast the ball out to the rough.

From there, he found the green and two-putted for a bogey.

Woods, the FedExCup points leader, mixed four birdies with a bogey for a three-under 68, while Australian Scott (73) had three bogeys and a lone birdie on an ideal morning for low scoring.

The US’ Kevin Stadler (64) was a shot behind the leaders, while Hunter Mahan and Roberto Castro, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia, were a further shot back after carding 65s. Defending Deutsche Bank champion Rory McIlroy and this year’s US Open winner Justin Rose both shot one-under rounds of 70.