Mickelson recovers for first-round 71 at Masters

Phil Mickelson reacts after missing an eagle putt on the 13th green during the first round of the Masters golf tournament.

Phil Mickelson reacts after missing an eagle putt on the 13th green during the first round of the Masters golf tournament.

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Phil Mickelson’s 1-under-par 71 in the opening round of the Masters was a tale of two nines. He was, by his own assessment, Captain Hack on the front nine and the Comeback Kid on the back nine.

“I didn’t feel great or confident coming out,” he said, blaming a 2-over-par 38 on his failure to play a tournament the week before the Masters. “I didn’t hit anything good.”

About his back nine, where he posted a 3-under 33, he said, “I started feeling good with my swing.”

His new small-headed Callaway Phrankenwood driver, which he called a “driver substitute,” received mostly rave reviews as he assessed the round. He focused on the two par-5s on the back nine, 13 and 15.

“I hit hellacious bombs (off the tee) for me,” he said. “I hit 8-iron into that back pin at 13 and 9-iron into 15. I just don’t have that (short yardage) into those holes. I’m normally hitting 4-, 5- or 6-iron into 15.”

The result was two two-putt birdies.

One mistake with Phrankenwood was a pulled drive on 17 that resulted in a bogey. Otherwise, he was pleased with his finish and eager to play the second round.

“I can’t wait to get back out there,” he said. “I feel I have a very low round in me.”

Before leaving, Mickelson felt compelled to turn his attention to the condition of the golf course. “I don’t get it,” he reflected. “They (the greens) are soft and they are slow. Consequently we have 45 people at par or better. I’ve got to change my whole mindset and just get after these pins. I’ve given this course way too much respect because of my past knowledge.”

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