Phil Mickelson overcame stormy conditions, a tough golf course and probably some jet lag to post a three-under-par 67 in Round 1 at the 2013 U.S. Open. He held the lead as he walked off the course.
There were questions about how Mickelson would perform in Round 1 after a hectic week. He was at Merion Golf Club on Monday before returning home for his daughter's eighth-grade graduation in San Diego, as reported by Bob Harig of ESPN.
The plan was for Mickelson to return early Thursday, and that's exactly what happened. Rex Hoggard of Golf Channel reports his flight landed in Philadelphia at 4:30 a.m. His colleague Steve Burkowski said "Lefty" arrived to the range just before 6 a.m.
Let's recap his soggy trip around the course during Round 1.
Phil Mickelson's Round 1 Scorecard
Mickelson started the opening round on the 11th hole. Scores courtesy of official majors championships site.
2013 U.S. Open Leaderboard
Despite the overnight travel, Mickelson arrived for his 7:11 a.m. ET tee time without a hitch. Playing alongside Keegan Bradley and Steve Stricker, he began the pursuit of his first U.S. Open championship on the 11th hole (via Karen Auerbach on Instagram).
His tournament didn't get off to an ideal start. A bogey on the opening hole immediately put him behind the eight ball. The only good news is that every golfer will have some setbacks on the difficult Merion course over the next four days.
Luckily for Mickelson, he was able to get back even before play was suspended. He knocked home a birdie on the par-three 13th hole and backed it up with a couple of pars before the golfers were called off the course due to an approaching storm.
After the rain passed and play resumed, the American picked up three more pars before heading to the first hole, which was his ninth of the day under the format. Even though it might not seem like much, solid, consistent play will rule the week.
Mickelson gained another stroke to move to one under par with a tremendous putt on No. 1. It appeared the long-range effort would either come up just short or roll right of the hole, but it trickled in to the cup, leading to a fist pump from Lefty.
After failing to take advantage of the first par-five hole of his round at No. 2, he almost dropped a shot at No. 3. He was off the green and had very little room to work with to put himself in par range, but his short game came to the rescue to help him stay one under par.
The save became even more important when Mickelson once again couldn't come away with a birdie on the par-five fourth. While he can overcome that lack of scoring in the early rounds, he must turn those into birdie holes to contend over the weekend.
Mickelson was back in scramble mode on the fifth. A misplayed tee shot left him in bad shape, but he played perfect golf from there to save himself from dropping back to even par (or worse) again.
After a par on the sixth, Mickelson finally played a hole how he drew it up. A solid drive paired with a pinpoint approach shot put him within tap-in range to take the lead, and he easily converted, moving to two under par all alone that that point.
Jerry Kelly tied him atop the leaderboard a short time later, but Mickelson struck again, this time nailing a long birdie putt on the par-three ninth to take him to three under par.
Mickelson finished his round, and a whirlwind couple of days, with a par on the 10th. It's an ideal start for the four-time major champion. He'll look to build on it on Friday.