Erratic Mickelson opens with 69 at Safeway

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It wasn't what he had planned for his season debut, but Phil Mickelson managed to scrape it around and get into red figures during the first round of the Safeway Open.

Mickelson is one of the headliners in the field this week in Napa, Calif., and he certainly kept fans on their toes Thursday with tee balls that rarely found the mark. Lefty hit only two of 14 fairways at Silverado Resort & Spa, but he still managed to find 14 greens in regulation. It added up to a 3-under 69 that left him four shots off the lead.

"It wasn't exactly how I wanted to play starting out, but I didn't hurt myself too much after the first round," Mickelson told Golf Channel. "But I didn't drive it the way I've been driving it. And this golf course, if I'm driving it well, my iron play is going to give me a lot of opportunities."


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Mickelson scrambled to five birdies against just two bogeys, including an 8-foot make for birdie on No. 18 to post a sub-70 round. He and 2015 champ Emiliano Grillo are the only Presidents Cup participants who made the cross-country flight from Liberty National to tee it up this week.

The 47-year-old is making his second straight appearance in the Napa Valley, and he tied for eighth here a  year ago. After the round he quickly headed to the range alongside swing coach Andrew Getson to work on his long game with a quick turnaround before his second-round tee time.

"Just trying to figure out why I wasn't feeling comfortable with the driver," Mickelson said. "The rhythm was a little bit out of whack, a little quick from the top. I've actually been driving the ball pretty well, but it was a little bit off today."