Spieth shot a 7-under 63 on a blustery Thursday and was tied for the first-round lead at the Charles Schwab Challenge with Sergio Garcia, who had a 15-foot bird attempt at the 18th hole that circled the edge of the cut but did not do not fit. The two former colonial champions had rounds without a bogey.
Mickelson, 50, just four days after becoming the oldest winner of a golf major, fell back 10 strokes after a 73 that ended with the 22-foot birdie while playing with the local favorite Spieth and the reigning colonial champion Daniel Berger (68).
“Yeah, I didn’t play well,” Mickelson said. “But I won the PGA, so. “
Garcia tied the closing 63 he had at Colonial when he claimed the first of his 11 PGA Tour victories 20 years ago at the age of 21. He was 5 years younger on the four-hole stretch in the middle of the round. He birdied at holes 8-10 past an eagle on the 11th for 620 yards, where he exploded from a bunker at the edge of the greens on the longest hole on the course.
“It was quite windy. There were gusts so it wasn’t easy to shoot some of the clubs, ”Garcia said. There were some tough holes there, but I was able to hit some really good shots on those holes, and a few ups and… downs when I needed them.
Right after Mickelson’s last putt in the 387-yard ninth, Spieth had a tap-in for his third straight birdie and seventh overall – and just after a 71-foot chip-in from the rough at the eighth par-3. The 2016 winner and two-time runner-up got his best score in 33 career rounds at Colonial, one of two home events for the Dallas native, after rolling in a 12-foot birdie to start the day.
“It’s hard to go any lower,” said Spieth. “That’s what I talked about before the tournament. If I could get a couple early in the first round, the confidence and the work I’ve been doing on my stroke the last few days… I thought that would give the rest of the round a bit of confidence on the greens where I ‘ve had a lot of success before.
Adam Hadwin of Abbotsford, BC, is the top Canadian after a 66. Corey Conners of Listowel, Ont. (70), Nick Taylor of Abbotsford (71), Mackenzie Hughes of Dundas, Ont. ( 72) and Michael Gligic of Burlington, Ont. (77) are well behind the leaders.
Erik Compton, the double heart transplant recipient who entered the field on a sponsor exemption, and Jason Kokrak were 65 years old. Compton, 41, played without a bogey after birdies on the first two holes of his second PGA Tour start this year. He missed the cut at the Honda Classic.
Mickelson, the 2000 and 2008 Colonial Champion, missed nine of 14 fairways – some with irons off the tee – in an early start round that followed a few emotionally grueling days.
After winning Sunday at Kiawah Island in South Carolina, Mickelson returned home that evening to California, then allowed himself a few days to savor his historic achievement. Lefty said he never considered jumping Hogan’s Alley, a tree-lined course that he considers perfectly suited for his game because he doesn’t have to keep hitting pilots.
But the rough is thick after a lot of rain recently, and there’s a good chance for more Friday.
Mickelson, who was playing his last tournament before the US Open from his hometown to Torrey Pines next month, put himself to the test on his first swing of the day. While saving par in the 10th for 407 yards, he quickly had the first of his five bogeys at No.11, where he hit two shots in the rough and another in a bunker on the green side. He eventually birdieed the 16th par-3 from inside 5ft, then immediately returned that shot to # 17 with the first two shots in the rough before a 44ft shot in a bunker.
“It was almost like I was trying a little too hard, and I wasn’t just calm and let go, and I was a little anxious,” Mickelson said, then adding the term unstable. “Like I just can’t calm myself down in the same frame of mind. “
Mickelson said the course was very playable, even with winds of 15-20 mph, due to the receptive greens. But he couldn’t keep the ball in the fairway.
“You can’t play this course off the rough because then you have tree problems, which I’ve had a number of times, and I haven’t putt well,” he said. “But I won the PGA, so I’m going to see if I can turn things around for tomorrow and get a little more focus, a little more energy.
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