It was not a pretty start for Phil Mickelson, who played his first four holes at Oak Hill in 3-over par. But Phil has it working now late on Thursday at the PGA Championship, utilizing the rain delay to get his game in order on the driving range. Mickelson has jumped to even-par with three birdies in four holes.
Phil rolled in a birdie after a great approach shot on No. 9, getting one back before the horn sounded. He went right to the range as soon as the rain let up, working with his caddie Jim Mackay to get his alignment right. The No. 2 player in the world was off and running after the break, picking up red numbers at Nos. 11 and No. 12. He did at at the 11th by bombing in a lengthy putt from about 25 feet. Mickelson has reiterated that he's putting better than he ever has in his career, and if he has it rolling this week like he did at Muirfield, he will go back-to-back at the majors. On the next hole, he did the work with his irons, sticking his approach shot for an easier birdie chance, which he converted to get back to even.
He dodged a bullet at the par-5 13th hole, when his tee ball came to a rest inside the hazard line but out of the water. With his swing plane narrowly missing the rocks of the creek wall, the lefty was able to get back on the hole and save a par. It's amazing he's at even-par given how poorly he's played the two par-5s at Oak Hill. Both were birdie holes but Mickelson carded a double bogey and a par.
Mickelson is still playing catch-up to his playing partners, Justin Rose and Adam Scott. Both have two of the lower afternoon rounds going, with Scott still holding a share of the lead at 5-under. With a softer and easier course after the delay, there was talk that Scott had a shot to set the majors scoring record of 62, but five straight pars mean that he'll have to birdie three of the five difficult finishing holes. Rose and fellow Englishman Lee Westwood are two shots back at 3-under, while Miguel Angel Jimenez continues to hover a shot off the pace. Here's a snapshot of the leaderboard as the first round winds down:
|T3||Miguel Angel Jimenez||-4||15|