Tour & News

Phil Mickelson Is in the Mix After First-Round 69 at the Honda Classic

Phil Mickelson Says He Will Win More Majors
Phil Mickelson tells GOLF LIVE that he will add to his five major titles.

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (AP) -- A combination of the wind and PGA National made this a rude welcome to the Florida swing on Thursday.

Shane Lowry, David Lingmerth and George McNeill shared the early lead at 3-under 67, and they had to work hard for it in gusts that approached 30 mph on a course that is difficult even in calm conditions.

Lowry capped off his round with a 3-iron that settled 3 feet away for an eagle on the par-5 18th with the wind at his back. He played the final four holes, which PGA National promotes as the "Bear Trap" for designer Jack Nicklaus, in 3 under.

"The Bear Trap itself has actually been OK. The rest of the golf course was the problem," Lowry said.

McNeill had a double bogey on the 11th hole and countered with five birdies. Along with a 45-foot birdie putt, he twice saved par with 10-foot putts, had another par putt from 18 feet and even on his double bogey made an 8-foot putt.

"I had the putter going," McNeil said. "That's really all. Not much else to say. I hit it OK. It just seemed like when I got on the green I made it, or if I didn't make it, it was close to going in. I don't know how many one-putts I had, but felt like quite a few.

Lingmerth was the steadiest of the early leaders. He made only one bogey.

NEWSLETTERS: Sign up for latest news, scores, player updates and tips

Phil Mickelson didn't lose any momentum from his runner-up finish at Pebble Beach two weeks ago, opening with a 69. He was among only 10 players from the morning batch who broke par. Mickelson made the turn at 3 under, only to drop two shots and miss a pair of good birdie chances.

Even so, the start was more evidence for Mickelson that his game was headed in the right direction. In his previous start, he lost a two-shot lead in the final round at Pebble Beach and finished one shot behind.

"The last year or two, I would show up at a course and I was just trying to find something," Mickelson said. "Now I show up to the course and I'm very relaxed. I'm calm and fairly confident because I'm able to hit a good number of really good shots, and then the ones that I do miss a little bit, I'm able to control and know which way I'm going to miss it."

Mickelson opened with a 4-iron from 200 yards into the wind to 10 feet for birdie, and his lag putting kept stress out of his game. He missed a pair of 5-foot pars, though he was happy to be playing in the morning. Storms overnight were pushed away by a cold front that had most players wearing sweaters in the morning.

"The greens were soft and receptive," Mickelson said. "Had they been firm, I don't think anybody would have shot under par."

Jason Dufner opened with a 68, while Justin Thomas, Paul Casey and Sean O'Hair were among those at 69.

Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler and defending champion Padraig Harrington were among those who played in the afternoon.

More From the Web

More Tour & News