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Phil Mickelson Remains Contender at 2013 PGA Championship After Average Round 1

ROCHESTER, NY - AUGUST 08:  Phil Mickelson of the United States reacts on the 17th hole during the first round of the 95th PGA Championship on August 8, 2013 in Rochester, New York.  (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
Stuart Franklin/Getty Images
Alex BallentineFeatured ColumnistAugust 8, 2013

Phil Mickelson might not be in the top 10 on the leaderboard after the first round at the 2013 PGA Championship, but he's still lurking as a serious threat to hoist the Wanamaker by Sunday. 

"Lefty" didn't exactly stun those in attendance in Rochester, New York with his first round. Thanks to two double-bogeys, he shot a 71 to finish one over par and six shots off current leaders Jim Furyk and Adam Scott. 

Despite the mediocre score, the reigning British Open champion had plenty to be happy about on Thursday.

After a rough start that saw him go bogey and double-bogey on Nos. 3 and 4, he settled into a nice groove. He posted four birdies over the next 13 holes, with a double-bogey on the final hole his only slip-up on the back nine. 

As the PGA Tour pointed out, Mickelson's round had a little bit of everything. 

He displayed the kind of pinpoint accuracy needed to compete on the East Course at Oak Hill with this approach shot on No. 9. He would finish the hole by carding his first birdie of the round with an excellent putt. 

He also showcased his classic ability to get out of a bind when he nearly hit it into the rocks on No. 13. Shane Bacon of Yahoo! Sports tweeted out the difficult lie:

While most golfers wouldn't dream of saving par on the hole with that lie, Lefty was able to do just that. He hit a tremendous recovery shot to save face after putting himself in quite the predicament. 

All in all, it wasn't the best of starts for Mickelson. Starting the tournament six shots off the lead is never where you want to be after the first round, but if there's anyone who can handle the disappointing start, it's Lefty. 

After all, this is a scene that should be familiar to fans of the Major championships. Mickelson was nowhere to be found at the top of the leaderboard in this year's Open Championship. After following up a 69 with a 74 in Round 2, it appeared he was going to be a non-factor in the illustrious tournament. 

As we all know now, that wasn't the case. Mickelson caught fire on the tournament's final day at Merion to go five-under and win the tournament by three strokes. 

While it's easy to discredit Mickelson as a contender after a difficult first round, history has shown that he's far from done yet.

Coming back won't be easy. He's just one stroke away from the current cut line, with several players at T-75 with a score of two-under. But the middle of the round that saw him card all of his birdies shows that he has the ability to post a great round at any time. 

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