Phil Mickelson leads after opening 61 on PGA Tour Champions debut
By Ali Stafford
Last Updated: 25/08/20 9:15am
Phil Mickelson made a strong start to life on the over-50s circuit by topping the leaderboard after the opening round of the Charles Schwab Series at Ozarks National.
The five-time major champion, who turned 50 in June, made a late decision to make his PGA Tour Champions debut after missing the cut at The Northern Trust on Friday, which left him unable to progress in the FedExCup play-offs.
Playing alongside Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker and two-time US Open champion Retief Goosen in Missouri, Mickelson carded 11 birdies in a 10-under 61 to set the pace ahead of David McKenzie.
"The expectation is there," Mickelson said. "If you play well and win, well, you're supposed to do that. If you don't, it's like, what happened? I wanted to make sure I was playing well when I played in my first one."
Mickelson started with a two-putt birdie at the par-five first and added another two-putt gain at the driveable third hole, before picking up shots at the fourth, fifth and seventh.
A bogey at the ninth saw Mickelson turn in 32, before he followed a birdie at the 11th by making five consecutive birdies from the 13th to move ahead of the field in the 54-hole event
Former Players champion KJ Choi and former US Open runner-up Rocco Mediate are in the group of four players that sit in tied-fourth,three shots back, with Bernhard Langer, Ernie Els and former world No 1 Vijay Singh all in the group on six under.
Colin Montgomerie opened his week with a four-under 67, while 2002 PGA champion Rich Beem - also making his PGA Tour Champions debut after working for Sky Sports last week - marked his 50th birthday with a one-over 72.