Harrison Frazar tied a career best by shooting 9-under-par 62 at the TPC of Scottsdale to take the lead during the first round of the Phoenix Open.
Frazar is two shots clear of John Huston and David Toms. Toms was at 9-under entering the final hole, but double bogeyed the par-4 18th to finish two back.
Retief Goosen, Luke Donald, James McLean, J.J. Henry and John Rollins had 6-under 65s.
Defending champion Chris DiMarco opened in 2-under 69, as did Phil Mickelson.
Mickelson, the 1996 champion, had 16 pars and two birdies in his 2003 PGA Tour debut, but the round was far from routine.
The lefthander displayed the rust that had accumulated since his last competitive event, the Target World Challenge six weeks ago, by missing eight fairways and six greens in regulation.
Frazar is trying to live up to the promise he displayed in his rookie season of 1998. He tied for second in the Byron Nelson that year, and finished 63rd on the money list.
Injuries, however, have not allowed him to better upon his freshman campaign.
It is frustrating, but I have to look at it in a positive way, Frazar explained. Ive had a lot of things Ive had to deal with. I had a broken hand, some torn muscles, hip surgery, stress fracture in my lower back, little things like that over the last three or four years.
Having gone through all those things, and still having a job out here, and still doing as well as I did is a positive.
Even though hes been gimpy, the 31-year-old Texan has been a mainstay inside the top 100 on the money list. Last year ' when he missed two months due to surgery to repair torn ligaments in his right hip ' he made five top-10s in 28 starts and finished 96th in earnings.
Now, he feels hes finally ready to break through into the winners circle.
Im healthy; Im strong; Im felling better than I have in long time, so its time now for some good play, he said.
And thats exactly what he produced Thursday. Armed with a new driver (by Cleveland) and a new ball (by Titleist) Frazar had a 20-foot eagle chip-in at the par-5 13th to go along with eight birdies and one bogey.
The 62 was pretty much expected in round one ' if not by Frazar then by someone else.
Els won the Mercedes Championships with a tour record 31-under. He then won last weeks Sony Open as one of 12 players to break 70 in all four rounds.
Toms looked like he was on course for a possible sub-60 score Thursday, but crumbled late.
After birdieing five holes from Nos. 9-14 to get to 8-under, he parred the par-5 15th and the short par-3 16th. He tied for the lead with a birdie at 17, but pulled his approach shot into the water at the last.