Phil Mickelson Shoots 61, Leads After Round 1 in PGA Tour Champions Debut

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 25, 2020

Phil Mickelson reacts to missing a putt on the ninth green in the first round of the Northern Trust golf tournament at TPC Boston, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020, in Norton, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Charles Krupa/Associated Press

Phil Mickelson might be new to the PGA Tour Champions series, but the 50-year-old is apparently feeling right at home.

Mickelson leads the field in the Charles Schwab Series at Ozarks National after carding a 10-under 61 to open the tournament Monday. David McKenzie is one shot back in second, while Tim Petrovic, Rod Pampling, K.J. Choi and Rocco Mediate are tied for third at seven under.

The five-time major champion birdied No. 1, setting the tone for a blistering round. His best stretch came on the back nine when he birdied five straight holes.

PGA TOUR Champions @ChampionsTour

Another one. Birdie No. 7 on the day for @PhilMickelson. https://t.co/76e6v84Fju

PGA TOUR Champions @ChampionsTour

Drive through the fairway. 💪 Bunker shot to 4 feet. 🎯 Bury it. 🐦 Vintage @PhilMickelson. https://t.co/x5bms4Egg9

PGA TOUR Champions @ChampionsTour

From 40 feet! @PhilMickelson with his third straight birdie. https://t.co/qK7gF1N0nK

PGA TOUR Champions @ChampionsTour

Pouring them in. Lefty drains another long birdie. https://t.co/RKgc2jldv5

PGA TOUR Champions @ChampionsTour

ON PHIRE! 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 @PhilMickelson with five straight birdies at @GolfBigCedar. https://t.co/hfTofSzKd2

"It's a lot of fun, a fun environment," Mickelson said of the event, per golf analyst Ron Mintz. "It is really cool for me to be a part of. This one is very special and I am thankful for that."

He reached all but one green in regulation, and his 1.558 putts per GIR are fifth-best in the field, according to PGATour.com. Combine that with an average of 315.5 yards off the tee, and it isn't hard to see why Mickelson is sitting atop the leaderboard.

This start is a stark contrast from Mickelson's last event, where he missed the cut in the Northern Trust.