In a first-round Friday on the PGA Tour Champions in October, there was a tiny fraction of the drama surrounding the shot, compared to the one Phil Mickelson hit from the pine straw at No. 13 on Masters Sunday in 2010. Still, there are moments when Lefty reminds us of just how creative and skillful he can be.
Once again in the hunt early in only his fourth career start on the 50-and-older circuit, Mickelson hit a shot on—yep—No. 13 at Timuquana Country Club in Jacksonville, Fla., that had everyone shaking their heads in admiration, though Phil would later say it wasn’t a tough shot at all.
Mickelson drove left into the trees at the 13th and appeared to have no shot at the green on the par 5 because of a stand of pine trees that were blocking him. But this is Phil, so he pulled out his trusty 2-wood, or mini-driver. And off wet, sandy pine straw, Mickelson hit a giant cut that finished pin-high, just right of the green.
For those with eagle eyes, you can watch the ball on replay take what must have been at least a 20-yard curve.
Phil, of course, made even the aftermath of that great shot interesting when he weakly left his putt from off the green short, but he converted the remaining six-foot putt for birdie.
Of the shot from the trees, Mickelson said, “I had a tight lie in that sand so you could really spin it, and I just took like a 2-wood or kind of a mini-driver face so I could get a flatter face and get a lot more side spin. Honestly, it wasn’t that hard of a shot because the lie was right. You just had to pull it off.”
Mickelson made seven birdies in a six-under-par 66 round tarnished only by the bogey he made at the 18th. The 2021 PGA Championship winner was tied for the lead in the Constellation Furyk & Friends with Matt Gogel, who birdied his last two holes to score 66.
Mickelson, 51, has it going again on the senior tour that has been wholly to his liking. He won in his first two Champions starts last fall before adding a T-20 in February’s Cologuard Classic. This is Mickelson’s first start since notching a T-36 in the PGA Tour’s Fortinet Championship in mid-September and serving as a U.S. vice-captain in the Ryder Cup.
“The golf course is challenging here and there’s some spots you’ve got to be careful,” Mickelson said, “but for the most part it’s just really fun being out here and playing fewer holes [54 instead of 72] and being able to play aggressive—kind of like the way I like to play. It’s been fun the few events I’ve played.”