After the third round of The Barclays last week, Phil Mickelson declared he was finally recovering from his post-Open Championship hangover and his game was coming around. He lived up to his word, posting a final-round six-under 65 to surge up the leaderboard.
Mickelson’s fine play carried over to this week at the Deutsche Bank Championship, the second of four legs in the FedExCup Playoffs, where he flirted with a sub-60 round for the second time this season.
The Open Champion golfer of the year kicked off the Deutsche Bank Championship with seven birdies on his first nine (teed off no. 10), including a streak of five in a row, to post 28. Yes, 28! Which prompted the 59 watch.
“It was a good start, I got off to a great front nine,” Mickelson said. “Somewhat stalled on the back, but after shooting 7 under the first nine, it was going to be a good round, as long as I didn’t mess it up.”
Then, he bogeyed no. 1, his 10th hole of the day, but rallied with an eagle on no. 2. After hitting his drive in the trees on the 9th hole, he closed with a bogey and settled with an eight-under 63. It’s weird to call a “63” disappointing, but that’s what it was for Phil on Friday morning at TPC Boston.
“At the turn, after I birdied 18, I thought I’ve got to shoot 5-under the back side to shoot 59,” said Mickelson. “When I eagled 2, I thought it was realistic. I needed to get nos. 3 and 4. When I didn’t birdie 4, I stopped thinking 59.”
Still, Phil stole the spotlight from his playing partners, Tiger Woods and Adam Scott — the top three points leaders in the FedExCup Playoffs. The last time they were paired together was in the first two rounds at the 2008 U.S. Open when they were 1-2-3 in the world rankings.
Woods, who shot three-under 68, said his back felt fine and complimented Mickelson on his performance.
“What Phil did today was pretty impressive,” said Woods, who has won five times on Tour this season.
Tiger also called the course “gettable” — which it was — but he used the same word to describe Muirfield on Sunday after he posted a mediocre 74, while Phil shot 66 to win the Claret Jug.
“If I finish off with one or two wins this year, and win the FedEx Cup, I think that would be enough to get the player of the year,” he said, via the AP. “My game clicked again last week, and I feel like these next three weeks I’m going to play very well. I can just feel it. You can just tell sometimes. The game feels sharp. And mentally, I have a lot of energy and I’m able to focus clearly. And that’s usually when you play well.”
Meanwhile, between Phil and Tiger, Scott was nearly forgotten and struggled on his way to a 73.
Mickelson, who won the 2007 Deutsche Bank Championship,
will likely remain the first-round leader at the end of the day shares the first-round lead with Brian Davis, who birdied the last two to match Lefty’s 63.
For what it’s worth, when he opened with a 60 — his putt for 59 did a 180-degree spin around the cup before it lipped out — at the Waste Management Phoenix Open earlier this year, he successfully completed a wire-to-wire victory.
(AP Photos/Steve Milne)