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Mickelson delivers bogey-free 67 after layoff

Phil Mickelson in the 2013 WGC-Cadillac Championship first round
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DORAL, Fla. – No one knew what to expect from Phil Mickelson, including … Phil Mickelson.

Since we last saw him at the Northern Trust Open, Mickelson took a week off, then began preparation last week for the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral.

On Wednesday, he and Keegan Bradley got smoked in their practice round match against Dustin Johnson and Thorbjorn Olesen, a team that birdied the last three holes. Before Mickelson walked off the 18th green Wednesday, he walked over and discreetly slipped some money into Johnson’s pocket and patted him on the back.

So a bogey-free 67 to open was a bit of a surprise, and it even included a putt on the last hole to get into a tie for the lead. Still, Mickelson is only one back of leaders Tiger Woods, Freddie Jacobson, Sergio Garcia, Graeme McDowell and Bubba Watson.

“I didn’t know how I would be as far as my ability to focus on each shot, as far as my patience, energy level,” Mickelson said. “But it was all pretty good today. I was able to focus throughout the round.”

A classic Mickelson moment came on the par-4 17th hole when his tee shot was way right, hit the cart patch and ended up 450 yards away. He ended up hitting the second shot off the cart path to within 10 feet and made the putt for birdie.

'You hit the ball in as much trouble as I do off the tee, you learn to hit those kinds of shots and have enough practice at it,' Mickelson quipped.