(Reuters) – Phil Mickelson came up just short of a magical 59 on Thursday after carding 10 birdies and an eagle for a 60 in his opening round of the year at the Desert Classic in Southern California.
The five-times major champion needed birdies on his final two holes to become just the 11th player to record a sub-60 round on the PGA Tour but a par on 17 scuppered his chances.
A birdie on 18 left him one stroke shy of the mark.
The round of 12-under at the La Quinta Country Club still represents the 48-year-old American’s lowest score in relation to par and gave him a four-stroke clubhouse lead.
Mickelson’s flawless round put him four shots ahead of Australian Curtis Luck, who finished on 8-under after a round of 64. American Adam Long was also on 8-under through 13 holes.
Prior to the round Mickelson had said on Twitter he was excited to start the season but was “a bit rusty.”
“Sometimes you have those days where it all clicks,” he told Golf Channel.
“The bad shots I hit I was able to get away with and didn’t have the big score. And I made a lot of birdies.
“It was a fun day but I certainly did not expect this to be the case.”
(Reporting by Rory Carroll; Editing by Peter Rutherford)