Mickelson misses history-making 62
Phil Mickelson lit up the opening round of the 145th British Open, just missing out on a history-making 62. Instead, he carded just the 28th round of 63 in major history to lead Patrick Reed and Martin Kaymer by three shots at eight under.
“It was one of the best rounds I’ve ever played”, said Mickelson.
The American, nicknamed ‘Lefty’, made four birdies on the front nine including one on the famous Postage Stamp – Royal Troon’s signature eighth hole, a short par three. He went on to make another four birdies on the much tougher back nine and had a chance to be the first golfer in history to shoot an elusive 62. He was so close, millimetres away in fact.
The winner of five majors, including the 2013 British Open when it was held in Muirfield, had an 18-foot birdie putt on the last. And Mickelson was about to jump in celebration before agonisingly seeing the ball lip out of the hole.
On a stunning day of sunshine and hardly any wind, rare for the Scottish west coast, Mickelson could not really enjoy shooting the equal best round in major history, instead lamenting his miss on the 18th hole.
“I was able to take advantage of these conditions and yet I want to shed a tear right now. That putt on 18 was an opportunity to do something historical. I knew it, and with a foot to go, I thought I had done it. I saw that ball rolling right in the centre.”
“I went to go get it. I had that surge of adrenaline that I had just shot 62 and then I had the heartbreak that I didn’t and watched that ball lip out. It was, wow, that stings. It was just heartbreaking.”
Once Mickelson wakes up tomorrow, he’ll realise he can’t be too heartbroken because he’s ahead of world no.1 Jason Day by 10 strokes. Of the other pre-tournament favourites, Rory McIlroy carded 69 while Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth made even par 71s.
At 46, Mickelson has the chance to make more history on Sunday. He can be the second oldest Open champion since Old Tom Morris at Prestwick in 1867.