Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Sports

'Lefty' misses 59 by a lip

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

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 Thursday in the first round of the Phoenix Open.

"Six feet to go, (the ball) 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. At that speed, to lip out as much as it did is very rare.

"I'm excited to shoot 60, but to see that last putt lip out the way it did and not go in, it's crushing because you don't get that chance very often to shoot 59."

Playing partners Jason Dufner (68) and Rickie Fowler (68) thought it was going in, too.

"Unlucky. He was walking it in," Dufner said.

"I thought it was in," Fowler said. "I was pulling for him, trying to stay out of his way."

Mickelson settled for 11-under 60, matching the tournament record he already shared with Grant Waite and Mark Calcavecchia. He had a four-stroke lead over Ryan Palmer, Brandt Snedeker, Padraig Harrington, Ted Potter and Jeff Maggert when play was suspended because of darkness. The round started an hour late because of frost.

Five players have shot 59 in official PGA Tour events, the last being Stuart Appleby in the 2010 Greenbrier Classic.

In perfect conditions on a TPC Scottsdale course softened by weekend rain, Mickel­son, who started on the back nine, birdied the first four holes, then parred No. 14 and missed a 5-foot birdie try on the par-5 15th.

He was thinking about breaking 60 after making the turn in 7-under 29, which tied the tournament back-nine record.

"(When) I birdied (his third and fourth holes), 'Done deal. I'm going to get this done,' " Mickelson said.

"Very disappointed that I wasn't able to birdie the last couple. … I just knew I could do it, and darn it, it just lipped out."

deer-antler spray update: Vijay Singh withdrew from the Phoenix Open, a day after saying he used deer-antler spray and was "absolutely shocked" it contains a substance banned by the PGA Tour. Singh cited a back injury in pulling out before the first round. The tour said it is looking into Singh's use of the spray, which contains IGF-1, connected to human growth hormone. Mark O'Meara, at the European Tour's Dubai Desert Classic, said he doesn't think Singh would try to cheat but believes he should be suspended "for a couple of months." Bob Charles, the 1963 British Open winner, said in New Zealand he also used and promoted deer-antler spray for more than 20 years and was surprised to learn it contained a banned substance.

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Published: 01/22/18