Mickelson steadies the ship
Phil Mickelson overcame a “really rough” first eight holes to card a two-under-par 69 in the first round of the US PGA Championship.
The five-time major winner's opening drive on the par-five 10th at Valhalla was so far left of the fairway that he feared it had gone out of bounds and hit a provisional ball, but the left-hander found it up against a fence and was able to eventually scramble a par.
However, he still bogeyed the following hole as well as the 15th and 17th after a birdie at the 12th.
The turnaround started with a birdie on the 18th and a flawless front nine saw him rattle in birdies on the fourth, seventh and ninth holes.
Mickelson told Sky Sports: \"It was a good start, but the first eight holes were really rough.
\"I was nervous. I felt like my game was ready as I've had a great practice heading into the tournament.
\"I felt really ready but I hit the most horrific tee shot off the first hole - No 10 - and I was so lucky I wasn't out of bounds.
\"I played the first eight holes really rough and then it started to come back and I played the way I have been playing which was four under for the last 10.
\"So to get off to a good solid start is nice. It is not shooting up the leaderboard like you want - you always want to get the lead - but it is a good solid start.\"
The 44-year-old American then went on to explain the reasons behind his nervous start.
He said: \"I haven't been in contention. I haven't had the year that I wanted and for the first time this year I really felt good about my game.
\"I felt that all parts were where I wanted and it I felt I was ready to compete and ready to try to win a championship.
\"As opposed to showing up on a first hole and trying to find something, I knew it was there and then it wasn't.
\"But it started to settle. I played some good solid shots and then started to make some birdies.\"