Mickelson "crushed" after 59 near miss
It's not often that a golfer shoots an 11-under-par 60 but finishes his round with a tinge of disappointment.
But that fate befell Phil Mickelson, who saw his perfectly struck 25-foot birdie putt curl around the cup but not drop on the par-four ninth at the TPC at Scottsdale in Arizona.
It was his final hole of the first round of the Phoenix Open and had it gone down, the American superstar would have joined the elite club of five players who have broken 60 on the PGA Tour.
"To see that last putt lip out the way it did and not go in, it's crushing because you don't get that chance very often to shoot 59," he told the official PGA Tour website.
"He could not have hit a better putt," said his long-time caddie Jim Mackay.
"Disappointing for everyone to not see that one go in on the last," said one of Mickelson's playing partner's Rickie Fowler.
Mickelson, who achieved the same 11-under 60 score at the tournament in 2005, joins fellow Masters winner Zach Johnson in being the only two PGA Tour players to shot 60 or better more than once in their careers.
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"I was ecstatic (in 2005), and I'm ecstatic to shoot 60 (today)," Mickelson said.
"But there's a big difference between 60 and 59. Not that big between 60 and 61, there really isn't. But there's a big barrier, a Berlin Wall barrier, between 59 and 60."
In another twist, fellow American Bo Van Pelt had shot a 59 in the pro-am Wednesday, but it does not count for the record books, while Mickelson himself carded a 59 at the PGA Grand Slam of Golf in 2004, a four-man invitational tournament which does not count towards the official money list.
The five golfers to have carded official 59s on the PGA Tour date back to Al Geiberger in 1977. Paul Goydos, Chip Beck, David Duval and Australian Stuart Appleby, the latest in the 2010 Greenbrier Classic, have also achieved the feat.
The world record is a 12-under 58 by young Japanese golfer Ryo Ishikawa at a tournament in his home country in 2010.
Mickelson's heroics left him four shots clear of the field heading into Friday's second round -- a big improvement on his two previous lackluster displays in earlier events in the 2013 season.
The four-time major winner has also attracted controversy off the course over remarks he made about tax rates in his home state of California, but on it he remains an flamboyant performer who regularly thrills the galleries.
Meanwhile, Richard Sterne of South Africa has a slender one-shot lead at the halfway stage of the Dubai Desert Classic on the European Tour.
He followed his opening 62 -- one shy of compatriot Ernie Els' superb course record -- with a two-under 70 in tougher conditions on the second day on the Majils Course at the Emirates Golf Club.
Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark, England's Tommy Fleetwood and Stephen Gallacher of Scotland were tied for second on 133.
Spanish star Sergio Garcia was on 135, while world number 8 Lee Westwood of England trailed by six shots after a one-under 71 in his first tournament of the year.
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