Tour Tracker: Mickelson, Spieth struggle at Valero

Phil Mickelson preparing for the PGA Tour's 2014 Valero Texas Open.

Pat Perez and Danny Lee both posted 4-under 68s to take the clubhouse lead at the Valero Texas Open when play was suspended due to darkness on Thursday evening in San Antonio.

Meanwhile, stars Phil Mickelson (77) and Jordan Spieth (73) both struggled mightily.

Here's how it all unfolded on Thursday at the JW Marriott:

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Update #10: 5:55 p.m. EDT

Danny Lee gets up-and-down from a greenside bunker on the par-5 18th for a birdie to jump into a tie for the lead with Pat Perez at 4 under. Lee had five birdies and a bogey.

Lee has struggled at times this season, missing eight of 12 cuts, although he did finish second at the Puerto Rico Open.

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Update #9: 5:15 p.m. EDT

Ryan Palmer finished with an even-par 72 mostly due to this incredible eagle:

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Update #8: 5:15 p.m. EDT

There are a handful of people that are outside the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking that could use a victory this week to potentially punch a ticket to the Masters in two weeks:

• After a double and bogey early in his round, Brooks Koepka has three birdies - including one at No. 17 - to get back to even par and just four shots off Pat Perez's lead. He is playing the par-5 18th for a chance to end in red. Koepka is No. 75 in the world, so would need a victory for any shot.

• Chesson Hadley is No. 56 in the world and is just now getting his round going, sitting a 1 over thru two holes. Hadley likely needs a win as well.

• Branden Grace is No. 57 and is even through 16 holes on Thursday. Take a look at his eagle on Thursday:

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Update #7: 4:30 p.m. EDT

Phil Mickelson finishes his round with a double bogey on No. 9 and cards a 5-over 77, his worst round of his PGA Tour season (he has shot 74 three times).

Meanwhile, Jordan Spieth finishes birdie-birdie to card a 3-over 75. He was 6 over at one point, but used four birdies coming in to creep slowly back up the leaderboard.

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Update #6: 3:40 p.m. EDT

And with an 18-footer for birdie on his final hole, Pat Perez gets into the clubhouse with the early lead behind a 4-under 68. Perez finished his round with three consecutive birdies.

He's one shot ahead of Will MacKenzie, who fired a 3-under 69 behind five birdies and a double bogey.

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Update #5: 3:15 p.m. EDT

Pat Perez has birdied his last two holes (Nos. 16-17) to jump into a share of the lead with Will MacKenzie and has just the par-5 18th to play on a day of tough scoring.

Perez is No. 32 in the FedEx Cup race currently, has three top 10s this season, five top 25s and has made 11 of 12 cuts. He closest call was a T-2 finish at the Farmers Insurance Open.

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Update #4: 2:15 p.m. EDT

Jordan Spieth had six back-nine bogeys, but it looks like the turn might be good to the 20-year-old, as he picks up his first birdie on No. 1, but he is still at 5 over through 11 holes.

Playing with Spieth, Phil Mickelson is struggling a bit too, picking up three bogeys and two birdies through 11 holes.

With 72 players on the course, only 18 are under par, and no one better than 2 under (Pat Perez, Richard H. Lee, Seung-Yul Noh).

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Update #3: 12:45 p.m. EDT

It's been a slow start for the field in San Antonio, with 21 players over par for their respective rounds.

The biggest surprise is Texas native Jordan Spieth, who has opened with four consecutive bogeys – he started on the back – and is dead last in the field currently. Phil Mickelson isn't much better, picking up a bogey on No. 4 to move to 2 over.

There are only six players under par.

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Update #2: 12:15 p.m. EDT

Phil Mickelson is on the course in San Antonio and had a hiccup on No. 2 and is 1 over very early in his round.

Our Jim McCabe caught up with Mickelson after his pro-am to talk about returning to the Texas swing and the upcoming Masters.

• • •

Update #1: 11:30 a.m. EDT

Play is finally underway in Texas after a 150-minute delay due to heavy fog. Get a glimpse at the conditions via the Twitter feeds of Morgan Hoffmann (left) and Bud Cauley (right).

photo

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Preview coverage

Mickelson readies for 1st Texas Open since 1992

Phil Mickelson’s final stroke of the day, a deft 8-footer for birdie, fell into the cup at 7:40 p.m. local time, though no one saw it. It was that dark at TPC San Antonio on Wednesday evening. What could be heard, however, was the good cheer of a pro-am much enjoyed.

Expert picks: J. Spieth, Z. Johnson among Valero favorites

Former Texas Longhorns player Jordan Spieth and Brendan Steele are two of the players drawing interest from our experts in their picks for this week's Valero Texas Open on the PGA Tour. Spieth has played well much of this season, and a homecoming could be just what he needs to put four solid rounds together.

Notes: J. Walker survives moving day; Z. Johnson looks to erase 80

In his previous eight trips to the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio, Jimmy Walker was the hometown guy. This time, well, he’s still the hometown guy, only now he’s also a three-time PGA Tour winner. Zach Johnson, meanwhile, is back for the first time since and looking to put a bad round out of mind.

In San Antonio, Alvarado seeks path back to Tour

The Valero Texas Open wasn’t exactly a tournament he had penciled in as part of his ease back into competition, but Benjamin Alvarado is thrilled for the opportunity. At home in Orlando, Fla., on Monday, Alvarado was two tournaments into his return from being sidelined for months with an injury to his left kneecap.

Other news

Dawson: Delays in Rio shrink time for test event

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – Construction delays on the Olympic golf course in Rio de Janeiro have further narrowed the window to host a preview tournament, said Peter Dawson, president of the International Golf Federation. The course might not be ready for a test event until less than a year before the 2016 Summer Games. Dawson, who also acts as the R&A’s chief executive, said Wednesday at a roundtable discussion here that despite the construction delays in Brazil, officials still intend to conduct a tournament before the 2016 Summer Games.

Royal & Ancient GC to vote on female membership

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – The Royal & Ancient Golf Club is set to break with centuries of tradition and allow female members, R&A chief executive Peter Dawson announced today. Club members will vote on whether to allow women to join during their annual business meeting Sept. 18. For the motion to pass, two thirds of the membership must vote to accept women as members.

Tour players recall Balicki's 'passion for college golf'

He was preparing for the 2009 U.S. Amateur Public Links, just cruising along in a practice round at Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club in Norman, Okla., when Rickie Fowler knew he finally had come to grips with a difficult decision: He was going to turn professional in a few months, after the Walker Cup. But an easier decision was how to make the news public. “I called Ron Balicki,” said Fowler, who was going to forgo his final two years at Oklahoma State. Balicki passed away Thursday at the age of 65.

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