Phil Mickelson will remember the one that got away, the 62 that was in his grasp and the history it would have invoked.
Instead he’ll have to settle for a 3-stroke lead after the first day of the 145th Open Championship at Scotland’s Royal Troon Golf Course.
Mickelson had a tremendous shot at 62 but his birdie putt on No. 18 lipped out, leaving him with an 8-under 63 for the day. The 5-time Major winner was 4-under on both sides of the turn, with eight birdies and no bogeys.
“It was one of the best rounds that I’ve played. I mean, nothing will match that final round at Muirfield, but it was one of the best rounds I’ve ever played. I was able to take advantage of these conditions, and yet I want to shed a tear right now,” Mickelson said. “That putt on 18 was an opportunity to do something historical. I knew it, and with a foot to go I thought I had done it. I saw that ball rolling right in the center. I went to go get it, I had that surge of adrenaline that I had just shot 62, and then I had the heartbreak that I didn’t and watched that ball lip out. It was, wow, that stings.
The 63 has Mickelson three strokes ahead of American Patrick reed and German Martin Kaymer, himself a two-time Major winner.
Ironically, Mickelson has not won a tournament since taking the 2013 Open Championship in comeback fashion. He’s played well in the previous two incarnations of the Open Championship at Royal Troon in his career, finishing tied for 24th in 1997 when he was 27, and third in 2004, missing a three-man playoff by a single stroke.