Golf Roundup

59 eludes Mickelson’s grasp

Mickelson must make do with 60 at Phoenix Open

The Associated PressFebruary 1, 2013 

APTOPIX Phoenix Open Golf

Phil Mickelson watches his birdie putt roll towards the cup on the ninth green during first round of the Phoenix Open golf tournament, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013, in Scottsdale, Ariz. Mickelson's putt lipped-out, and he had to settle for par on the hole. (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Rob Schumacher) MARICOPA COUNTY OUT; MAGS OUT; NO SALES

ROB SCHUMACHER — The ASSOCIATED PRESS

— Phil Mickelson pointed his putter at the cup and started to walk toward the hole, ready to celebrate golf’s magic number.

Right at the end, though, the ball caught the right edge of the cup, curled 180 degrees to the other side of the hole and stayed out. A fraction of inch turned cheers to gasps and cost him a 59 on Thursday in the first round of the Phoenix Open.

“Six feet to go, it was in the center,” Mickelson said. “Three feet to go, it was in the center. A foot to go, it was in the center, and even as it’s approaching the hole, I couldn’t envision which side of the hole it could possibly miss on, and it ended up somehow just dying off at the end, catching the lip.”

His caddie, Jim Mackay, fell to his knees and stayed there several seconds.

“He could not have hit a better putt,” Mackay said.

Playing partners Jason Dufner and Rickie Fowler also watched in disbelief when the 25-foot birdie putt lipped out.

“Unlucky,” Dufner said. “He was walking it in.”

“I thought it was in,” Fowler said. “I was pulling for him.”

Mickelson settled for an 11-under 60 at TPC Scottsdale, matching the tournament record he already shared with Grant Waite and Mark Calcavecchia.

“Well, 60 is awesome,” Mickelson said. “Last time I shot 60 here in ’05, I birdied like the last three or four holes just to do that, and I was ecstatic, and I’m ecstatic to shoot 60. But there’s a big difference between 60 and 59. Not that big between 60 and 61, there really isn’t. But there’s a big barrier, a Berlin Wall barrier, between 59 and 60.

“I shot it in the PGA Grand Slam of Golf. I shot 58 in a practice round. But to do it in a tournament would have been historic for me, something I’d always remember, and I’ll always remember that putt on the last hole probably, too.”

Finishing his round on the front nine, the 42-year-old former Arizona State star birdied the par-3 seventh to reach 11 under.

He parred the par-4 eighth, leaving an 18-footer a rotation short.

On the par-4 ninth, he split the fairway with a 325-yard drive and hit a gap wedge left of the pin, with the ball spinning to an immediate stop.

He said he was thinking about breaking 60 after making the turn in 7-under 29, a mark that tied the tournament record for the back nine.

Seeking his third victory in the event, Mickelson had a four-stroke lead over Ryan Palmer, Brandt Snedeker, Padraig Harrington, Ted Potter Jr. and Jeff Maggert when play was suspended because of darkness in the round that started an hour late because of frost.

Singh exits Phoenix

Vijay Singh withdrew before the round, a day after saying he used deer-antler spray. The 49-year-old Fijian, facing possible sanctions from the tour, cited a back injury.

Sterne shoots 62 in Dubai

At Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Richard Sterne nearly broke the course record at the Dubai Desert Classic, shooting 10-under 62 in the first round to finish one shot ahead of Stephen Gallacher.

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