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Mickelson & Davis Go Low in Beantown
On a day of low scoring at TPC Boston in Norton, Mass., Phil Mickelson and Brian Davis went the lowest. Mickelson, a five-time major champion, and Davis fired matching 8-under 63s to share the first-round lead in the Deutsche Bank Championship, the second leg of the four-event, season-ending FedEx Cup Playoffs.
Featured in the marquee pairing with Adam Scott and Tiger Woods and starting on the 10th tee Friday, Mickelson carded seven birdies in his opening nine holes to make the turn in 7-under 28. The 43-year-old cooled down on the home half, however, posting two bogeys, a birdie and an eagle on the par-5 second hole (his 11th).
Mickelson knows that the TPC Boston's front nine plays tougher than its home half, and wasn't too concerned about his opening 28 leading to a magical 59. "I still felt I could have shot 3- or 4-under (on his finishing nine)," the reigning British Open champion told PGATour.com. "I wasn't too worried about shooting 59."
Davis, a 39-year-old from England with two European Tour titles, with the most recent coming nine years ago in the ANZ Championship, had a much cleaner scorecard, carding four birdies on each of his front and back halves.
One stroke out of the lead is Kevin Stadler, who also had eight birdies, with his only dropped shot coming on the 12th (his third hole of the day). "It was the best round I had this year, in quite a few years, really," said Stadler, the son of veteran pro Craig Stadler. "I kind of got in a groove with the putter. It was fun seeing the ball go in the hole."
Two strokes behind the co-leaders are Americans Hunter Mahan and Roberto Castro, along with Spaniard Sergio Garcia. A whopping total of 16 players posted 66s, with the group including John Huh, Chris Kirk, Lee Westwood, Harris English, Jason Dufner, Nicholas Thompson, Stewart Cink, Bob Estes, Jerry Kelly, Ryan Moore, Jonas Blixt, Kevin Streelman, Steve Stricker, Matt Kuchar, Ian Poulter and Ernie Els.
Another 11 - Brian Gay, Henrik Stenson, Graham DeLaet, Jordan Spieth, Boo Weekley, Robert Garrigus, K.J. Choi, John Merrick, Jason Day, Charl Schwartzel and Brendan Steele - opened with 4-under 67s.
Woods, who entered the FedEx Cup Playoffs as the points' leader in the season-long race, shot a 3-under 68. Much was made of Woods' back coming into the tournament; in last week's Barclays he buckled to the ground in pain after hitting a shot in the final round.
With the Friday start - and Labor Day finish in the Deutsche Bank Championship - Woods took advantage of extra treatment time for the spasms that plagued him last week.
After the round, the five-time winner in 2013 declared his back "all good," adding that his problems - if there were any after shooting 3-under par - had more to do with his swing. "I didn't hit the ball as well I'd like to but I scored all right," he told PGATour.com. "I didn't give myself a lot of looks."
Scott, the reigning Masters champion who won The Barclays last Sunday at Liberty National Golf Club in New Jersey, posted a 2-over 73. The Aussie later joked that he got up on the wrong side of the bed Friday morning.
Defending champion Rory McIlroy opened with a 1-under 70. Starting play on the 10th hole, the 24-year-old Northern Irishman - looking for his first victory since last November in Dubai - went out with three birdies and two bogeys. On his back nine, he came in at even-par following three birdies and a like number of bogeys.
"I'm making a lot of birdies but also making a lot of stupid little mistakes," he said after the round. "If I can cut those out, it's a different story.
"It's a bit mental but I still made six birdies, so not that much is wrong," McIlroy added. "(The round was) the worst it could have been."
Also posting a 70 was U.S. Open champion Justin Rose, who had four birdies, a bogey and a double on the par-4 14th hole.
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