|Tiger Woods tied a course record with a 30 on the front nine on the way to a two-shot lead. (Nell Redmond/Associated Press)|
Masterful starts at Quail Hollow
Woods shoots 65; Mickelson at 67
The Masters is over. The Tiger & Phil show might just be getting started.
Tiger Woods matched the course record with a 30 on the front nine, where he closed with three straight birdies yesterday morning to finish off a 7-under-par 65 at the Quail Hollow Championship in Charlotte, N.C. Phil Mickelson followed in the afternoon by chipping in for eagle and making a remarkable par save from under a video board for a 5-under 67 that put him in a tie for second.
They did not play together, as they did three weeks ago in an electric final-round pairing at Augusta National. But on a warm and breezy afternoon, it seemed as though they were never far apart.
A few fans taunted Woods early in his round, calling out, "Let's go, Phil!" as he walked by.
Mickelson couldn't escape a familiar name even as he lumbered to the finish, as fans called out, "You're only two shots behind Tiger!"
"It's only one round," Mickelson said. "There's a lot of golf left."
The emphasis was not accuracy off the tee as much as wizardry with the short game, and both players were up to the task.
Woods ran off six birdies and two splendid par saves on the front nine. After twice putting himself in tough positions, he hit a low pitch out of a swale on the second hole to a foot, then hit another wedge that stopped a few inches next to the cup on the fourth.
"I hit a couple of loose shots here and there, but I really putted well," Woods said. "I had a couple of key saves - made a nice little up-and-down at 2 and just a really good save at 4 that kept the round going. It's always nice when you birdie the last three."
For Mickelson, it was sweet to finish with a par.
From a fairway bunker on the par-4 18th, he wanted to lay up short of the green but pulled his shot while trying to avoid a creek that runs down the left side.
The ball went under a large video board, and Mickelson took his free drop on a slope of grass above the cart path.
Then came a wedge that spun just enough to stop 2 feet away.
"It's nice to finish with a par," he said. "I ended up playing a good round."
Steve Marino, who gave himself a chance at winning last week in New Orleans, and Robert Allenby also opened with a 67. The group another shot back included two-time US Open champion Retief Goosen, Hunter Mahan, Jeff Maggert, and Lucas Glover.
Masters champion Angel Cabrera opened with a 70, along with defending champion Anthony Kim.
Woods, who finished one shot behind Mickelson at Augusta, became the fifth player to shoot 30 on the front nine at Quail Hollow.
He'd not been leading after a round since Saturday at the US Open last summer, and while he got off to a bogey-free start, his record is not all that daunting when leading after the first round - 13-10 on the PGA Tour.
European: Coming back from a six-month PGA suspension, John Daly shot a 70 in the first round of the Spanish Open at Girona to trail leader Soren Hansen by seven strokes.
Hansen had nine birdies and an eagle at the PGA Golf de Catalunya course to overcome an early double-bogey and lead Thomas Levet (64) by one. Jose Manuel Lara and Callum Macaulay were at 65.
Sporting a slimmed down look and a new swing, Daly was pleased with his drives but struggled with his putter. He is tied for 45th.