While the rest of the world was focused on players like Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson stepped up in the first round of the 2016 British Open to remind everyone he's still capable of doing great things.
Now the pressure shifts to Mickelson as he carries a three-shot lead over Patrick Reed and Martin Kaymer heading into Friday's second round. His only previous victory in this tournament came in 2013. McIlroy was the last wire-to-wire winner in 2014, so Lefty has a lot of work remaining.
Here's how the leaderboard looks heading into the second day of action at Royal Troon:
|2016 British Open Groupings and Start Times|
|Time (ET)||Golfer 1||Golfer 2||Golfer 3|
|1:35 a.m.||Greg Chalmers||Kristoffer Broberg||Clement Sordet|
|1:46 a.m.||David Howell||Seung Yul Noh||Tony Finau|
|1:57 a.m.||Jordan Niebrugge||Nick Cullen||Robert Streb|
|2:08 a.m.||Ben Curtis||Stefano Mazzoli||John Daly|
|2:19 a.m.||Francesco Molinari||Kevin Kisner||KT Kim|
|2:30 a.m.||Todd Hamilton||Justin Leonard||Mark Calcavecchia|
|2:41 a.m.||Soren Kjeldsen||Lasse Jensen||Bill Haas|
|2:52 a.m.||Paul Casey||Charl Schwartzel||Kevin Na|
|3:03 a.m.||Emiliano Grillo||Joost Luiten||Charley Hoffman|
|3:14 a.m.||Graeme McDowell||Matt Kuchar||Andrew Johnston|
|3:25 a.m.||Phil Mickelson||Lee Westwood||Ernie Els|
|3:36 a.m.||Satoshi Kodaira||James Hahn||Andy Sullivan|
|3:47 a.m.||Ryan Moore||Bernd Wiesberger||Tommy Fleetwood|
|4:03 a.m.||Dustin Johnson||Martin Kaymer||Russell Knox|
|4:14 a.m.||Zach Johnson||Adam Scott||Henrik Stenson|
|4:25 a.m.||Chris Wood||Yusaku Miyazato||Mark O’Meara|
|4:36 a.m.||Miguel Angel Jimenez||Jason Dufner||Marc Warren|
|4:47 a.m.||Anirban Lahiri||Sergio Garcia||Keegan Bradley|
|4:58 a.m.||Webb Simpson||Yuta Ikeda||Thomas Pieters|
|5:09 a.m.||Rafa Cabrera-Bello||JB Holmes||Brandon Stone|
|5:20 a.m.||Marco Dawson||Matthew Southgate||Yosuke Tsukada|
|5:31 a.m.||Jack Senior||James Heath||Brian Gay|
|5:42 a.m.||Jim Herman||Fabian Gomez||Anthony Wall|
|5:53 a.m.||Paul Howard||Daniel Summerhays||Colt Knost|
|6:04 a.m.||Oskar Arvidsson||Harold Varner III||Tyrell Hatton|
|6:15 a.m.||Ryan Evans||Callum Shinkwin||Zander Lombard|
|6:36 a.m.||Colin Montgomerie||Marc Leishman||Luke Donald|
|6:47 a.m.||Steven Alker||Marcus Fraser||Sanghee Lee|
|6:58 a.m.||Jeunghun Wang||Jon Rahm||Ryan Palmer|
|7:09 a.m.||Sandy Lyle||Scott Gregory||David Duval|
|7:20 a.m.||Richie Ramsay||Danny Lee||Harris English|
|7:31 a.m.||Alex Noren||Steven Bowditch||Kevin Chappell|
|7:42 a.m.||Darren Clarke||Thorbjorn Olesen||Jim Furyk|
|7:53 a.m.||Justin Thomas||David Lingmerth||Kiradech Aphibarnrat|
|8:04 a.m.||Branden Grace||Patrick Reed||Byeong Hun An|
|8:15 a.m.||Paul Lawrie||Brandt Snedeker||Thongchai Jaidee|
|8:26 a.m.||Padraig Harrington||Louis Oosthuizen||Jamie Donaldson|
|8:37 a.m.||Scott Piercy||Paul Dunne||Jamie Lovemark|
|8:48 a.m.||Victor Dubuisson||Jimmy Walker||Scott Hend|
|9:04 a.m.||Jordan Spieth||Justin Rose||Shane Lowry|
|9:15 a.m.||Ross Fisher||Steve Stricker||Vijay Singh|
|9:26 a.m.||Danny Willett||Rickie Fowler||Jason Day|
|9:37 a.m.||Rory McIlroy||Hideki Matsuyama||Bubba Watson|
|9:48 a.m.||Gary Woodland||James Morrison||Soomin Lee|
|9:59 a.m.||Smylie Kaufman||Chris Kirk||George Coetzee|
|10:10 a.m.||Billy Horschel||Matthew Fitzpatrick||Hideto Tanihara|
|10:21 a.m.||Matteo Manassero||Shugo Imahira||Russell Henley|
|10:32 a.m.||Kodai Ichihara||Robert Rock||William McGirt|
|10:43 a.m.||Brendan Steele||Richard Sterne||Matt Jones|
|10:54 a.m.||Patton Kizzire||Nicolas Colsaerts||Rod Pampling|
|11:05 a.m.||Dave Coupland||Nathan Holman||Phachara Khongwatmai|
|11:16 a.m.||Scott Fernandez||Rikard Karlberg||Haydn Porteous|
Mickelson has largely remained off the radar this year, with just five top-10 finishes in 16 tournaments, so naturally he would start the British Open by coming within an eyelash of setting a new major scoring record:
To illustrate how surprising Mickelson's performance on Thursday was, he hasn't had a score better than 65 in any round this year and didn't have a round under par at the Masters or U.S. Open.
After his round, via ESPN's Bob Harig, Mickelson even put it up there with the best rounds he has ever played:
It was one of the best rounds that I've played. I mean, nothing will match that final round at Muirfield, but it was one of the best rounds I've ever played and I was able to take advantage of these conditions, and yet I want to shed a tear right now. That putt on 18 was an opportunity to do something historical. I knew it, and with a foot to go I thought I had done it. I saw that ball rolling right in the center. I went to go get it, I had that surge of adrenaline that I had just shot 62, and then I had the heartbreak that I didn't and watched that ball lip out. It was, wow, that stings.
The feel-good story of this tournament would be Mickelson winning, especially after missing the cut at this year's first two majors.
Unfortunately, nothing about Mickelson's performance this year indicates he will be able to keep playing at a pace even close to this. He has built a small cushion to work around some mistakes, and the top golfers this year were a mixed bag on Thursday.
Jason Day was the biggest disappointment, finishing two-over par and tied for 95th place. He's endured heartbreak at this tournament in the past, missing a birdie putt on the 18th hole last year to get in the playoff that Zach Johnson eventually won.
Justin Ray of the Golf Channel was largely able to shoot down any hopes for Day making a comeback over the final 54 holes:
Rickie Fowler and McIlroy are solidly in the mix after shooting identical 69s. McIlroy is going to be kicking himself for shooting a double-bogey and bogey on consecutive holes to give away three shots after he grabbed a share of the lead.
In spite of the bad taste in McIlroy's mouth on those two holes, he is still a player to watch on Friday. Thursday marked his first round under 70 in a major tournament this year.
Yet the player to watch on Friday is last year's champion. Johnson has largely been an afterthought heading into this year's tournament, not even registering a comment from three CBS Sports analysts when they were making their predictions.
None of that mattered to Johnson on Thursday, as he opened the British Open with a strong four-under par 67 that would have been a lot better if he didn't finish with back-to-back bogeys.
Despite that bad ending, PGA Tour Media noted that Johnson's score puts him in the same category as Tiger Woods in one respect:
Woods won that 2006 event by vaulting into the lead in the second round. Johnson probably won't fire a 65 like Woods did a decade ago, but he definitely deserves to be a bigger part of the conversation.
Johnson came into the British Open off consecutive top-10 finishes at the U.S. Open and Bridgestone Invitational. He's caught fire after a spring lull that included a missed cut at the Masters.
This is going to be Johnson's tournament until someone takes it away from him. Friday will be his day to reclaim the spotlight, with McIlroy also putting himself in contention heading into the weekend.