Four-time event champion Phil Mickelson hit every fairway in posting a 6-under 66 on the Monterey course, along with Matt Every, Kevin Kisner and Australia's Jason Day. He's (theoretically) motivated, having lost his PGA Tour card last season.
It's been an interesting start to the new year for Mickelson. He followed that disappointment with the MC in Phoenix. Listed behind him are Matthew Fitzpatrick, Russell Knox, Martin Laird and Graeme McDowell, but I don't foresee a big week coming for any of them, either, though Fitz could be an interesting punt in his maiden voyage to Pebble. The PGA Tour moved Friday's tee times up an hour to 7 a.m. local time because of the forecast.
"It was a really good solid round, good solid start, and we had attractive weather and the golf course here is in spectacular shape".
Day said it was imperative to get off to a good start.
Mickelson still needs to capture a first US Open to join just five other players, including long-time arch-rival Tiger Woods as a member of golf's most-exclusive club - "The Grand Slam Club". He hit all but one green in regulation.
"It's about how do I improve to get myself into contention this week and then what do I do next week and just staying very present and recognising the longevity of a career", Spieth said.More news: Grizzlies trade Marc Gasol to Toronto
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In contrast to Potter Jr, Mickelson was naturally delighted with his efforts and in an event he's been attending since 1995.
He feels an emotional connection to the courses here. "He was one of the original caddies in the caddie group".
Mickelson's grandfather, Al Santos, passed on his love for the courses to Phil. And so there's an emotional tie to this place.
"When you don't have any distractions and you have a clearer mind, you can focus on playing".
The 25-year-old could use another reminder of how he used his underrated ball-striking to win at Pebble Beach two years ago. Thankfully he won't have to play that course when he dukes it out with Jordan Spieth for the 2019 U.S. Open.
"The pain just didn't go away and the results from some scans showed a bone bruise in my left wrist", he said.