Phil Mickelson didn't let Tiger Woods have the spotlight for long, starting the Phoenix Open with a ridiculous round of 60 that was on the edge of becoming just the sixth round of 59 in PGA Tour history. He had a 25-foot putt on the last hole to break 60, but the ball danced on the lip of the cup, going all the way around before hopping out in the cruelest way possible. Video of the final putt that hung on the edge:
Firing 59 is an achievement that's considered golf's "holy grail" and for a moment, it appeared that Phil might card the first-ever 58 in PGA Tour history. After getting to 10-under through his first 13 holes, he needed just two birdies in his final five holes to break 60. Unfortunately, he carded pars on four of his final five holes coming in.
In the history of the PGA Tour, there have been only five rounds that have broken 60, with the most recent coming in 2010 when Stuart Appleby caught fire at The Greenbrier. The previous rounds of 59:
1977 - Al Geiberger -- Danny Thomas Memphis Classic
1991 - Chip Beck -- Las Vegas Invitational
1999 - David Duval -- Bob Hope Chrysler Classic
2010 - Paul Goydos -- John Deere Classic
2010 - Stuart Appleby -- Greenbrier Classic
It was hard to see this kind of low number coming for Mickelson, who scuffled through his first two events on Tour this season. He failed to break 70 last week at Torrey Pines, a course in his backyard that he knows extremely well. Mickelson was also out of contention at the Humana Challenge, an event where low numbers like this are more common.
Mickelson started the day on No. 10 and nearly holed a wedge for eagle. Instead, he drained his putt to open with a birdie to set the pace for the rest of the day. Phil is using a newer saw grip to putt, and he was rolling them in all day from 10 feet and in. As is often the case with Mickelson, there weren't a lot of fairways hit off the tee but a brilliant short game and hot putting put him on pace to break 60.
TPC Scottsdale is a par-71 course, which takes away the opportunity for birdie or eagle on a par-5 but does start you one shot closer to 59. Mickelson, who played at nearby Arizona State and knows the course well, amazingly picked up red numbers on all four par-3s. He nearly aced the 205-yard 12th hole, spinning a 7-iron to within a foot of the cup.
Bo Van Pelt coincidentally set the course record at TPC Scottsdale on Wednesday, when he fired a 59 during the pro-am. Van Pelt lit up the back side during that round as well, playing the final seven holes in 7-under.
Mickelson is certainly one of the most streaky players in golf history, and his first nine on Thursday marked the eighth time in his career he had broken 30. He also missed an eagle putt at the 2004 Grand Slam of Golf that would have resulted in a 58, instead tapping in for birdie and 59. That tournament, however, is not an official PGA Tour event and Thursday's near-miss would have added him to the official list. Instead, it's a "disappointing" 60 that puts him in the lead by four shots.
The round is a dramatic turn in a slow start to the 2013 season for Mickelson, but Thursday's 18-hole stretch adds another career highlight in the most "Phil" of ways.
For a live leaderboard from the Phoenix Open, visit Golf.com.