Phil Mickelson was expected to do big things on the PGA Tour Champions circuit. He did just that on Monday, especially on the back nine.
Phil Mickelson made his debut on the PGA Tour Champions circuit on Monday and he more than lived up to the hype. Playing in the Charles Schwab Series at Ozarks National, Lefty came out hot, cooled a bit in the middle, then sprinted to the finish in his first round on the 50-and-over tour.
Mickelson got out of the gate early with a birdie on the par-5 first hole, taking advantage of his length to hit the green in two, then two putt to get under par.
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After a par on the par-3 second hole, Mickelson went on the first of two birdie streaks in his round. For this one, Lefty birdied the third, fourth and fifth holes, all par fours, to get to 4-under par through five holes. Not a bad start for a player making his debut on a new tour.
Mickelson would par the sixth hole before recording his fifth birdie of the day, this one at the par-5 seventh hole. He was 5-under par on his round at that point.
After a par on the eighth hole, Mickelson suffered his only bogey of the day on the par-5 ninth hole. His drive left him in the rough and he had a chance for par, but missed. Lefty shot a 4-under par 32 on his front side.
Mickelson’s back nine got off to a non-descript start. He parred the first hole, then birdied the the easy par-5 11th hole. Lefty would par the 12th and would be 5-under par with six holes to play.
That’s when the magic started to happen.
Mickelson would go on his second birdie streak of the day, and this one was even better than the first. He started with birdies on the 13th and 14th holes.
Mickelson then birdied the 15th. And the 16th. And the 17th. By the time he was done, it was five birdies in a row and Mickelson had vaulted himself into the lead.
After a par on the 18th hole, Mickelson closed his first PGA Tour Champions round with a 10-under par 61. After the first day, Lefty holds a one-shot lead over David McKenzie at the event in Branson, Missouri.
Mickelson was expected to do big things on the PGA Tour Champions circuit. And if Monday’s round is any indication, he’s going to be doing exactly that for some time to come.