CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Phil Mickelson loves coming to Quail Hollow because it reminds him of another course he's had a lot of success on -- Augusta National.
Like Augusta, Quail Hollow has very little rough, allowing Mickelson to hit what he calls "the most exciting shot in golf," the recovery shot.
"You can try different things, try to get out and around these trees, and it makes for fun, exciting golf," Mickelson said.
Mickelson had plenty of chances on Thursday as he struggled to find the fairway in his opening round of three-under 69.
Four consecutive birdies on Nos. 8-11 were bookended by recovery shots from the rough. Twice he found the water on par 5s but was able to make par.
However, not all of his recovery shots went according to plan. Mickelson went so far right on No. 4 he had no choice but to punch out, leading to one of his two bogeys on the day.
His drive on the par-5 7th settled on a patch of pine straw under a tree, a few inches short of the grass on the left side. Mickelson only had 198 yards to the pin, but he said he was worried about jarring his elbow. The distraction caused him to over-hook the ball into the water.
Not surprisingly, Mickelson played his best golf of the day when he started finding the fairways. After a 310-yard drive on No. 9, Mickelson hit a towering approach shot to three feet for an easy birdie. He flew the green with his second shot on the par-5 10th, but he was able to get up-and-down for a four.
With leader Bill Haas five shots ahead, Mickelson knows what he needs to work on if he's going to capture his first win at the Wells Fargo Championship.
"I think off the tee I have to get it in play a little more," Mickelson said. "This is a very demanding golf course. Tee to green it's one of the best I've ever seen, and I probably didn't drive it as well as I need to if I'm going to get myself in contention this week."
(Photo: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)