Late birdie run keeps Mickelson ahead at Desert Classic

Jan 21, 2019, 02:55
Late birdie run keeps Mickelson ahead at Desert Classic

Phil Mickelson came up just short of a magical 59 on Thursday after carding 10 birdies and an eagle for a 60 in his opening round of the year at the Desert Classic in Southern California.

He remained two shots ahead by the close of proceedings - Australian challenger Curtis Luck rising into second with a round of 66 at the Nicklaus.

However, despite some brilliant golf on Thursday which now gives him a three-shot lead heading into Friday, the 48-year-old believes he was fortunate to secure his place at the top of the leader board.

Canadian Adam Hadwin and American Steve Marino shared third on 131.

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Jutanugarn played the second round with former National Basketball Association star Ray Allen, and even though she was hitting shots all over the course, she found plenty of time to talk.

"I didn't think this was going to be a day I would go low", said Mickelson.

Mickelson, who has been a professional for 27 years, equaled his lowest career score with his 12-under round of 60 which included four birds in the first five holes.

Mickelson, a two-time Desert Classic champion who is in the hunt for his 44th career PGA Tour win, will look to build on his terrific start on Friday but will do so on a different course. "I putted really good". On 17, I hit a nice tee shot in a good spot to kind of hook a sand wedge into that back right pin for me. Hadwin had a 66 at La Quinta, the course where he shot 59 two years ago.

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Play will continue to be split up between the Stadium Course, the Nicklaus Tournament Course and La Quinta Country Club, and after the first three rounds are completed on Saturday, the cut rule will kick in.

Rose, the world number one, carded his 68 on the La Quinta course, while Laired fired his 72 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course.

Rose can expect stiff competition from Spain's defending champion Jon Rahm while two-time former victor Phil Mickelson is also in the field.

He narrowly missed out on finishing 2018 as world No. 1 but reclaimed the ranking from Brooks Koepka last week after the American could only finish 24th at the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.

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After a par at 15, He kept his hopes of a 59 alive with his ninth birdie of the day at 16, but he mis-read a good chance on the penultimate hole before capping a remarkable round in style at the last, knocking his approach to eight feet and rolling in the chance to claim a three-shot lead over the field.