St Andrews, Scotland (SportsNetwork.com) – Like many others in the field, Phil Mickelson got off to a quick start in the first round of the Open Championship, then had to hang on coming in as the weather got more difficult.
The 2013 champion was 3-under par after five holes, but had three bogeys and two birdies the rest of the way for his 2-under 70.
“I played really well, especially on the back nine. The back nine was back into the wind, and man, it reminded me of when I was a kid and couldn’t reach some of the par-4s (in two). It was crazy,” said Mickelson. “I played really well to shoot what I did.”
Mickelson birdied the second, fourth and fifth to get off to a fast start. His momentum was halted by bogeys at six and eight.
Around the turn, Mickelson got one back as he converted a birdie chance at the 10th. He stayed at 2-under as he ran off six consecutive pars from the 11th.
Mickelson, like many others, stumbled to a bogey on the 17th. He came right back with a birdie at the last to post 2-under 70.
As with the rest of the field, Mickelson knows that Friday’s round will be just as important with stronger wind and rain in the forecast.
“I’ve come to really love and appreciate playing over here and in that weather,” Mickelson said after being read Friday’s forecast. “There’s a couple of things. It’s difficult to hold on to the golf club. I’ll weather two gloves tomorrow in the rain, I think that really helps me because I don’t lose control of the club. We should be able to shoot under par on the front nine. The rain should clear up and the back nine will be back into the wind, but without rain, if I can play like I did today on the back nine, I should have a good round.”
In his first 18 appearances at this championship, Mickelson managed just a single top-10 finish. In his last four Open Championships, Mickelson shared second place in 2011 and won the title in 2013.
WOODS STRUGGLES AGAIN
Three-time Open champion Tiger Woods stumbled to an opening, 4-over 76. His round included five bogeys and a single birdie.
The 76 for Woods was his highest score as a professional on the Old Course at St. Andrews. Woods hit just 10 of 18 greens in regulation, which put him tied for 147th in a field of 156 players.
Outside of the middle two rounds at the Masters, Woods has struggled to score in the majors. He is a combined 15-over par in his seven major championship rounds in 2015.
Woods got off to a rough start as he bogeyed the first two holes. He found the burn with his second at No. 1 and saw a 20-footer for par at two lip out.
After a pair of pars, Woods faltered to a 3-putt bogey on the par-5 fifth. He failed to convert a 5-footer for par at seven, and that dropped shot left Woods at plus-4.
As Woods made the turn, he was 10 strokes off the lead. He tripped to another bogey on the 10th, and followed with three pars in a row. Finally, at the par-4 14th, Woods picked up his only birdie of the day.
Woods finished with four straight pars for his 76.
“I fought hard today. I made so many mistakes. I made two bogeys with wedges in my hand and I bogeyed a par-5. Not that ideal,” Woods said. “I caught a couple balls fat starting out. The wedge was fat on one. I hit a 9-iron that was fat on two, and I drove the ball in two divots.”
Woods’ worst previous opening round in an Open Championship was 75, which happened in 1996 when he was still an amateur.
NICE FIRST IMPRESSION FOR STREB
Making four birdies in your first six holes at the Open Championship is solid at any venue. Robert Streb did that in his first round on Thursday, and that was his first competitive round on the Old Course at St. Andrews.
Streb went on to shoot 6-under 66, which was his best score in any major by four strokes.
Not bad for a guy who not only hadn’t played St. Andrews before this, he hadn’t been in Europe before this week.
Streb birdied the first and third. After a par at four, he converted back-to- back birdies at five and six. Another birdie at the ninth moved him to 5-under at the turn.
The McGladrey Classic winner stumbled to the only bogey of his round at the 10th. Streb atoned for that mistake with a birdie at the 12th. He came back with another birdie at the 15th to move to 6-under.
Streb capped his first round of the Open Championship with three pars in a row.
* Paul Lawrie, the 1999 champion, would set a record for years between titles if he went on to win this week. The record for years between victories is 11.
* Danny Willett’s 66 was his lowest round in a major. This was his 29th round in the four major championships.
* Jordan Niebrugge, 21, carded a 5-under 67, which tied the record for lowest score by an amateur on the Old Course.
* The toughest hole was the par-4 17th. The Road Hole yielded no birdies and averaged 4.833 strokes in round one.
* The par-5 fifth was the easiest hole in the first round. There were three eagles, 84 birdies and just 13 bogeys. That led to an average of 4.506 strokes for the field.
Kevin Currie is the Senior Golf Editor at SportsNetwork.com.