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Mickelson rides eagle to best Masters start since 2011

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AUGUSTA, Ga. – In a signature Phil Mickelson round, Lefty played the front nine in 2 under with just four pars, electrified the crowd with an improbable 3-wood and began his week with a 2-under 70 on Thursday at Augusta National.

The highlight of the three-time Masters champion’s day came at the par-5 eighth hole when he hit a towering 3-wood from 262 yards to 2 feet for a tap in eagle.

“That pin has always given me problems,” he said. “I just took a little extra club and hit a high cut. I can't believe it ended up where it did. I have a hard time getting on that shelf with a wedge, and got there with a 3‑wood. That was a bonus shot.”

It was Mickelson’s best Day 1 score at Augusta National since 2011 and helped boost the confidence of a player who has just a single top-10 finish in his last 28 PGA Tour starts.

“I took some good momentum the last few tournaments coming in here to get a little bit of confidence,” said Mickelson, who tied for 17th last week at the Shell Houston Open. “I started making a lot more birdies. Coming here you don't have to be perfect, you can make some mistakes, and still get away with pars.”

On Thursday the only real mistakes Mickelson made seemed to be with his putter. His putting average on Day 1 was 1.72 and he planned to turn his focus to the greens before Friday’s second round.

“I feel good with the way the game is, and if I could just, over the course of the next three days, get hot with the putter a time or two, I should be able to make a run,” he said.