QUINTA, Calif. (Swing Update) – Phil Mickelson still feels so young. He always plays this way too.
Mickelson started his 27th full season as a professional on Thursday, flirting with one of the few feats he has not accomplished: the magic number of golf. The 48-year-old southpaw still shot a record in the desert classic of under 60, equaling his lowest score of his Phoenix Open career six years ago. It was the best bet he has been in one of the 2077 rounds he has played on the PGA Tour.
"It was kind of a lucky day for me in the sense that I did not feel uncomfortable," said Mickelson. "I did not really have the intense workouts that I would like, but I felt like all the parts were good and the click was done. Some days you have those days when he just clicked. And the bad beatings that I hit, I ran away. I could somehow not have the big score. "
Needing to play the last two holes on 2 under to shoot 59 on cloudy and rainy weather at La Quinta Country Club, Mickelson missed a 15-foot birdie test on par 17 before he managed a 9-foot birdie on the 18th -4th par.
"I was aware of it," said Mickelson about shot 59. "I gave everything I had and I had a good chance. On the 17th, I hit a good start in a good place to hang a sand spot at this right back pin for me. And I hit a good shot, I had 18 feet though, I should have brought it closer, but I still had a good chance of doing the putt. Did a good birdie at 18 years old. It's not an easy hole for me, it's been like sitting by the water. "
This event was his first on tour since early October and the first in competition since the victory against Tiger Woods in Las Vegas in November in a special event designed for television.
"I knew it was not far, but I did not feel ready to leave," said Mickelson. "I just felt that I had to be careful. I felt that I was playing a little more conservative. "
Lefty birdied the first two holes and played the normal back-to-back by 3-in-3 with a birdie at No. 5 and a 5-foot eagle putt at No. 6. He added a birdie ninth of the normal for one before nine thirty, and a birdie in the 10th par-4, 11th in the par-5, 13th in the 5th and 14th in the 4, obtaining a shine in front of the 14th green.
"It was an interesting shot because I could have easily lost one and I ended up taking one," he said.
He then ran into a footer for a birdie on the 16th par-4.
The Desert Classic is the only event on the PGA Tour to have two rounds below 60. When he won in 1999, David Duval had a score of 59 on the PGA West Palmer Course at PGA West. Adam Hadwin shot 59 at La Quinta in 2017.
Justin Rose, top-ranked, also made his debut in 2019 with a 68 at La Quinta – one of three courses used for the event. He is the first player to play in this tournament since the beginning of the world ranking in 1986.