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Phil on 1-under 71 in windy conditions: 'I love it'

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AUGUSTA, Ga. – Before winning the 2013 Open Championship, Phil Mickelson wasn’t exactly known as the quintessential wind player.

But after his victory at Muirfield in Scotland, Lefty’s affinity for challenging conditions has only grown, and on Thursday at Augusta National when the winds whipped and gusted to 40 mph made even the easiest shots challenging, Mickelson was one of the few players who savored the conditions.

“I love it,” he smiled. “I love it around here especially because the wind is going to magnify your misses and a lot of the guys that aren't familiar with this course and where you can go to on certain holes for certain pins will miss in the wrong spot and end up making big numbers.”

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Mickelson avoided those pitfalls on his way to a 1-under 71 that left him inside the top 5.

After starting his round with an eagle at the par-5 second hole, Mickelson bounced back from bogeys at Nos. 5, 6, 10 and 11 with birdies at the 13th and 16th holes.

“I played here so many times and just kind of know where to go,” Mickelson said. “I might miss it big, but I'll miss it in the right spot and I'll have a good chance to salvage par.”