Phil Mickelson started his 2019 in style on Thursday, carding a 12-under 60 to take a three-shot lead at the Desert Classic.
The round tied a career-low for the 43-time PGA Tour champion and was the lowest score on tour since Brandt Snedeker’s 59 at the Wyndham Championship in July 2018. It was also his lowest round ever in relation to par.
Mickelson became the first player in tour history with three career scores of 60 or better after a slew of birdies and one eagle propelled him to first place.
He started his tournament on the La Quinta Country Club – one of the three courses for the event – in California and birdied the first two holes. He carded an eagle on the par-five sixth hole and made the turn six-under 30 for his third nine-hole score of 30 at the Desert Classic.
Mickelson, who was quite happy with his putter, finished with six birdies on the back nine to take a commanding lead.
“I really didn’t think that this was going to be a day that I was going to go low,” he said after his round. “I came in with very low expectations. I haven’t had a lot of time to practice and prepare and I felt like all areas were okay, but you don’t really [know] until you get out and you play and compete.
“I hit a shot here and there and ended up making a putt and all of the sudden I was quite a few under par.”
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) January 18, 2019
Adam Long, who played his round at the Nicklaus Tournament Course, has sole possession of second place (nine under) and Australian Curtis Luck rounded out the top three (eight under).
There are four men in a tie for fourth place at seven under, including Trey Mullinax and Wyndham Clark.
Jon Rahm, the 2018 champion, joins nine others in a tie for eighth place at six under. His scorecard was stained early with a bogey on the par-four second hole but he carded seven birdies, including three in a row on the front nine, to be in contention.
World number one Justin Rose sits in a sizable tie for 31st place after shooting a four-under 68.