Phil Mickelson's return to Riviera a happy one

Associated Press

Phil Mickelson's return to Riviera a happy one

PGA Tour

Phil Mickelson's return to Riviera a happy one

PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. — After a three-year break from Riviera, Phil Mickelson returned in style with a Genesis Open first round 67.

Mickelson’s absence from Riviera since 2013 was due strictly to his children’s spring break holiday coinciding with the tournament he has won twice. Given Mickelson’s recent track record after early career struggles here—he’s lost twice in playoffs in addition to the wins in 2008 and 2009—another Riviera run appears in the cards.

“I really do enjoy this course, I just love playing here.”

Mickelson drove the ball well (9 of 14 fairways) but struggled with his iron play (10 of 18 greens). Just 22 putts helped, as did some spectacular recovery shots, highlighted by a lob wedge hole out for eagle from off the par-5 17th green, his eighth hole of the day.

“I thought as the round wore on I got a little bit tired and didn’t strike it quite as well as I did earlier, but I’m very pleased with the opening round. It’s never fun ending with a bogey, but I think it’s a good start.”

Mickelson normally commutes from Carlsbad to Santa Monica via private jet, but chose to stay near Riviera overnight due to fog in the forecast. That proved a wise move with play delayed by over an hour due to dense coastal fog.

The three-year layoff fueled the day’s largest gallery following the Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and Jim Furyk threesome. Even though his second win here was eight years ago, Mickelson’s most famous Riviera moment may have come in 2012 when he and Keegan Bradley both drained long birdie putts to force a playoff with Bill Haas. The highlight still runs on PGA Tour promotions and solidified Mickelson’s place in Riviera lore.

With the bleak forecast, Mickelson heads back to Rancho Santa Fe to wait out the impeding storm.

Latest

More Golfweek
Home