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Vintage Mickelson Stays in Touch at Safeway

Phil Mickelson had to rely on his trademark recovery skills on day one at the 2017 Safeway Open.
It was classic Phil Mickelson on day one at the opening PGA Tour event of the new season with the 5-time major winner keeping touch with the leaders despite finding only 2 of 14 fairways.

Mickelson opened with a 3-under 69 at the Safeway Open in California to sit just four shots off the pace.

While hitting just over 14 per cent of the fairways, Mickelson managed to hit 14 greens in regulation around the Silverado Resort and Spa’s North Course in Napa, mixing 5 birdies with 2 bogeys in the quest for his first victory anywhere since the 2013 Open Championship.

Defending champion Brendan Steele matched the final round of 65 that propelled him to victory at this event 12 months ago to share the lead at 7 under with fellow Americans Tom Hoge and PGA Tour rookie, Tyler Duncan.

Teeing off the 10th, Steele set up his round with a run of 5 birdies in 6 holes from the 13th to the 18th.

“Two good rounds in a row - a year apart,” Steele told PGA Tour Radio following his morning round. “It is a very different golf course this year though. The greens are firm and fast and you have to be in the fairway but this is the way it is meant to be played I think and it plays very nicely this way.

“This is a totally different mindset than trying to get as many points as possible to get to the Tour Championship as I was so here I was a lot more free to just come out here and try to play the best that I can rather than trying to get as many points as possible and not play poorly."

Steele did not get to the Tour Championship, his last event being the BMW Championship three weeks ago but unlike his fellow leaders, does have wins on the PGA Tour to his credit including this event and the Valero Texas Open in 2011.

The leading trio are two ahead of Lucas Glover, Chez Reavie, Jamie Lovemark and 2015 champion Emiliano Grillo.   

It was not a particularly good day for the four Australians in the field, Matt Jones, Greg Chalmers and Monday qualifier, Stephen Allan, recording rounds of 72 to be in 61st place while Aaron Baddeley opened with a round of 73 to be in 87th place.

There was a lot of interest in the performance of former champion in this event and a member of the 2015 International Presidents Cup team Sang-moon Bae who was playing his first PGA Tour event since returning from his compulsory two-year military training stint in South Korea.

Bae recorded a 1 over round of 73 to be well back after day one.    

ALISON WHITAKER: QUIET LOWER BODY

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Bruce Young
About The Author : Bruce Young

A multi-award winning golf journalist, Bruce's extensive knowledge of and background in the game of golf comes from several years caddying the tournament circuits of the world, marketing a successful golf course design company and as one of Australia's leading golf journalists and commentators.

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