Early on Thursday morning, Phil Mickelson posted his first tweet in over two weeks.
“I’m excited to start another year on tour at the Desert Classic!” he wrote. “Although – I’m a bit rusty, I’m also fresh and ready to get started.”
I’m excited to start another year on tour at the Desert Classic! Although – I’m a bit rusty, I’m also fresh and ready to get started. ?
— Phil Mickelson (@PhilMickelson) January 17, 2019
Apparently, Mickelson’s time time off did him some good, because in the first round of the Desert Classic — a tournament he’s won twice (2002 and 2004, back when it was called the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic) — he was anything but rusty, carding 10 birdies and an eagle en route to an opening round of 60. Yes, that’s 12 under par, but one short of the coveted 59.
Mickelson opened his round with two straight birdies, followed by two pars. Hole Nos. 5 and 6 are back-to-back par 5s, and he played them in three under par, going birdie-eagle. Two more pars and a birdie on No. 9 brought Mickelson to six under par at the turn.
After two more birdies on Nos. 10 and 11, Mickelson was eight under par through 11 holes and officially on 59 watch. Three more birdies on Nos. 13, 14 and 16 made the historic number seem like a real possibility, but Mickelson’s quest was derailed by a par on the 17th. For good measure, he birdied No. 18 to finish with a total of 60 — 12 under par.
Only 10 players have managed to post a sub-60 score on the PGA Tour. Brandt Snedeker was the last guy to do it, shooting a 59 at last year’s Wyndham Championship.
It was Mickelson’s lowest round ever on the PGA Tour in relation to par. He’s currently leading the tournament by three shots.
Mickelson has 43 career Tour victories, the most recent of which was last year’s WGC-Mexico championship. His victory there ended a winless drought of nearly five years.