Mickelson Three Ahead After Troon Masterclass
2013 Champion Golfer of the Year Phil Mickelson holds the outright lead in The 145th Open after a record-breaking first round score of 63 at Royal Troon today.
The American left-hander tied the best individual round ever played at The Open and beat the course record of 64 jointly held by Greg Norman (1989) and Tiger Woods (1997) by one stroke.
The 46 year-old had an opportunity to record the first ever round of 62 in a Major Championship, but his 18 ft birdie putt on the final hole agonisingly lipped out, leaving him the overnight leader on eight-under-par.
Some performance by a player who has not won anywhere since he closed with a remarkable 66 to claim a three shot victory over Henrik Stenson in The Open at Muirfield in 2013.
Mickelson’s record round will create all the headlines but he was by no means the only American to shine on a day when thousands of spectators lined the first fairway to watch local hero Colin Montgomerie hit the opening shot at 6.35am and Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Champion Golfer of the Year, aced a hole-in-one on the 14th hole.
The last six times The Open has been staged on the famous Ayrshire links, the Championship has all been won by an American and at this juncture it looks like this run might be continued with eight Americans currently featuring in the top eleven on the leaderboard.
Heading into the second round Mickelson’s 63 puts him three shots ahead of compatriot Patrick Reed and four in front of six more of his fellow countrymen in the shape of Justin Thomas, Steve Stricker, Billy Horschel, Tony Finau, Keegan Bradley and defending champion Zach Johnson, who dropped a shot at the last but has already given a clear indication he will not give up the Claret Jug without a fight.
The only interlopers into this eclectic group of golfers from across the Atlantic are Germany’s Martin Kaymer, who joined Reed in second place on five under par 66, and Denmark’s Soren Kjeldsen and England’s Andy Sullivan who are part of the group in a share of fourth place on 67.
The first of the leaders to go out in the second round is Finau who deserves particular praise for not dropping a single shot despite the fact he was playing his first ever round on a links course. Mickelson enters the fray at 8.25am alongside Lee Westwood and Ernie Els by which point the massed crowds will be awaiting another masterclass.