The putt that could have given Phil Mickelson a 59 in the first round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open circled the cup 270 degrees. Then it lipped out. It was a cruel ending to a splendid performance by one of the most loved and volatile professional golfers on the PGA Tour.
Long beyond the point of needing to prove anything, Mickelson’s career has already qualified him for the World Golf Hall of Fame. But he sure would have liked to have that elusive 59, something done only five previous times in PGA Tour history. (via ESPN)
“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,” Mickelson said afterward. “For the whole back nine I'm thinking, let's go. I made that putt on 1, I'm thinking it.”
“He made four twos today, which we think is the first time he's ever done that,” Mickelson’s caddie Jim Mackay said.
Playing with Mickelson, Rickie Fowler and Jason Dufner had 50-yard-line seats to Mickelson’s assault on par.
“Obviously it would be fun to shoot one. I haven't,” Fowler said. “I think the closest I've come is 62. It was cool out there. I was pulling for him, trying to stay out of his way, because obviously it would have been cool to see some history.”
“He started off real hot and then kind of made the move there on our first nine, and the start of our back nine really hot, and started adding it up, and you're like, man, he's got a chance to do this.” Jason Dufner said. “It would have been pretty exciting for the fans and for Phil and for everybody there to be part of that.”
Mickelson could not stop talking about his new Callaway driver, which he credited for the good round. He said that his misses in San Diego had been to the left, but that this new driver allows him to use the same golf swing with his driver that he does with his irons and that it eliminates the left shot. Certainly it did today.
“I'm ecstatic to shoot 60,” he said about the challenge of the low number. “There's a big difference between 60 and 59. Not that big between 60 and 61, there really isn't. But there's a big barrier, a Berlin Wall barrier, between 59 and 60.”
He said the birdie putt on his final hole was “heartbreaking.”
It is not the first time Mickelson shot 60 at TPC Scottsdale. He posted an identical score in 2005.
Mickelson’s lowest round in 2012 was a 66 at the Humana Classic. In 2010 he posted a 65 at Deutsche Bank.
Kathy Bissell is a Golf Writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand or from official interview materials from the USGA, PGA Tour or PGA of America.