(Reuters) – Phil Mickelson put his disappointing Ryder Cup performance behind him and surprised himself by shooting a seven-under-par 65 in the first round of the Safeway Open in Napa, California on Thursday.
Mickelson lost both of his matches last week in Paris as the Americans were hammered 17 1/2 to 10 1/2 by Europe, but delivered a much more assured 18 holes in the PGA Tour’s season-opener at the Silverado Resort Course.
Mickelson had a birdie at the third then ran off six more in a row from the ninth hole to finish the day two shots behind leader Sepp Straka.
“I certainly didn’t expect this. I expected to be going home after (Friday),” Mickelson told reporters. “I’m not playing well, I’m not at my best. Today I had a couple things click and I got in a nice little rhythm.”
Mickelson hit 14 of 18 greens and needed only 25 putts on the day. The five-times major champion is one of only two players in the field who are ranked in the top 25 along with Patrick Cantlay, who finished his day at three-under.
Austrian Straka birdied his final three holes for a nine-under-par 63 and sits one shot clear of Chase Wright.
Brendan Steele began the defence of his title with a 67 and is four back of the leader.
(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Peter Rutherfordpeter.email@example.com; +822 3704 5698 ReutersMessaging: firstname.lastname@example.org)