British Open champion Phil Mickelson flirted with a 59, but settled for an 8-under-par 63 and a share of the first-round lead alongside England’s Brian Davis at the Deutsche Bank Championship in Norton, Massachusetts, on Friday.
American Mickelson had eight birdies and an eagle along with two bogeys to set the early pace, and Davis joined him atop the leaderboard with a blemish-free round that featured eight birdies.
They were one stroke in front of American Kevin Stadler, with Spain’s Sergio Garcia, and Americans Hunter Mahan and Roberto Castro a further shot back on 65.
A group of 16 players on 5-under 66 included recently crowned PGA Champion Jason Dufner, England’s Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter, South African Ernie Els, Sweden’s Jonas Blixt and 2009 British Open champion Stewart Cink of the United States.
Mickelson was the class of the morning, teeing off on the 10th hole at TPC Boston alongside compatriot and world No. 1 Tiger Woods (68) and Masters champion Adam Scott (73) of Australia.
He birdied seven of his first nine holes. A bogey from a bunker at the first was followed by an eagle three at the par-5 second, where his second shot landed two feet from the pin. He nabbed another birdie at the par-3 eighth, but closed with a bogey when he hit his tee shot at the ninth into thick brush on the right.
The tee shot on nine and his wedge at the first were the “only two bad swings” of his day, Mickelson said.
The affable left-hander, who had a 59 in his sights when he carded a first-round 60 at Phoenix this year, was pleased with his round. “I putted really well,” he said. “There were a couple that didn’t go that had every bit as good a chance to go as the ones that did and that’s the sign that you’re putting well.”