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Mickelson wows, but Cabrera leads at Quail Hollow

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Birdies were plentiful Thursday at the new and improved Quail Hollow Club, where Phil Mickelson finally showed signs of life. Here's how things look after the opening round of the Wells Fargo Championship:

Leaderboard: Angel Cabrera (-6), Phil Mickelson (-5), Martin Flores (-5), Webb Simpson (-4), Jonathan Byrd (-4), Stewart Cink (-4), Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose among nine players at -3

What it means: Cabrera made the most of an early tee time, and by the end of the day he was still the man to beat as he looks to win a non-major on the PGA Tour for the first time. Mickelson briefly drew even with the Argentine, but even though a late bogey dropped him back he still appears to be in good position to record his first top-10 finish this season.

Round of the day: Cabrera has had a forgettable season, with seven missed cuts in nine starts and no top-40 finishes, but he took a big step toward rectifying that with an opening 66 at Quail Hollow. The two-time major champ notched seven birdies against just one bogey, including a stretch of four straight birdies from Nos. 9-13. Cabrera was third here in 2010 and after one round, he’s again in line for another high finish in Charlotte.

Best of the rest: Mickelson got off to a hot start, with six birdies across his first 12 holes to move in front before a bogey on the par-3 13th. He again tied Cabrera after another circle at No. 15, but his short par putt at the 17th caught the edge and lipped out. Despite the hiccup, Mickelson was left with a 5-under 67 that marks his lowest score since an opening 66 at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

Biggest disappointment: Bill Haas was born in Charlotte and went to school at nearby Wake Forest, but despite the local ties he struggled to a 3-over 75 in the opening round. Haas was making his first start since a wrist injury forced him to withdraw from the RBC Heritage, and the former FedEx Cup champ made six bogeys on his round, including three straight from Nos. 16-18. While he finished with three birdies across his last five holes, he still faces an uphill battle just to make the cut.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Cabrera's name may currently occupy the top spot, but there are several big names still within striking distance after one round. In addition to Mickelson and Simpson, a Quail Hollow member who opened with a 4-under 68, both McIlroy and reigning U.S. Open champ Justin Rose carded rounds of 3-under 69.

Shot of the day: Martin Kaymer holed a 66-yard pitch for eagle at the par-4 eighth hole, an impressive shot that became even more impressive considering the fact that it followed an eagle at the par-5 seventh. The stretch buoyed Kaymer to a 3-under 69, and he became just the third player this season to record back-to-back eagles on the PGA Tour.

Quote of the day: "I holed some nice putts today, which was good to see. At least it tells me the stuff I'm working on is going in the right direction." - McIlroy