Phil Mickelson Shoots Low-Round 61 in Champions Tour Debut

Phil Mickelson Ozarks National
Phil Mickelson hits his tee shot on the fourth hole during round one of the Charles Schwab Series at Ozarks National on Aug 24, 2020 in Branson, MO. Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Phil Mickelson made his debut round on the PGA Champions Tour a memorable one. The 50-year old superstar lit up the Ozarks National track with 11 birdies en route to a low-round 61 at the Charles Schwab Series event.

Mickelson’s maiden round was highlighted by five straight birdies on Nos. 13-17 en route to score of 10-under par, the lowest debut in PGA Champions Tour history.

Despite the record-setting day, Mickelson clings to a one-stroke lead over Australian David McKenzie, who shot a bogey-free 62.

“The expectation is there. If you play well and win, well, you’re supposed to do that. If you don’t, it’s like, ‘What happened?’” said Mickelson, who – at No. 54 – holds a higher world ranking than half the field at this week’s BMW Championship, the second leg of the FedExCup Playoffs.

“I wanted to make sure I was playing well when I played in my first one.”

Phil Mickelson Ozarks National
Phil Mickelson lines up a putt on the 13th green during round one of the Charles Schwab Series at Ozarks National on Aug 24, 2020 in Branson, MO. Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Mickelson, who after a missed-cut in Boston – which ended his PGA Tour season, was a late addition to the field in Missouri.

“I was a little nervous going in and it feels great to get off to a good start, especially when you’re only in a three-round tournament, you don’t have that extra round,” said Mickelson, who turned 50 on June 14. “You’ve got to come out and get off to a good start so that you’re not playing catch-up.”

K.J. Choi and Rocco Mediate were among those at T3 on 7 under. Mike Weir, Ernie Els, Vijay Singh and Bernhard Langer were part of a six-way tie for seventh on 6 under.


Top-5 Leaders

Pos-Player-To Par
1. Phil Mickelson -10 (61)
2. David McKenzie -9 (62)
3. K.J. Choi -7 (64)
3. Rocco Mediate -7 (64)
3. Rod Pampling -7 (64)
3. Tim Petrovic -7 (64)


One Question For Phil

Phil Mickelson Ozarks National
Phil Mickelson stands on the 13th green during round one of the Charles Schwab Series at Ozarks National on Aug 24, 2020 in Branson, MO. Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Q. Were you surprised at anything that you saw out there today setup-wise different than the PGA Tour and the PGA Champions Tour?

PHIL MICKELSON: “I mean, it is in that, you know, the Tour is set up very difficult. You don’t see it, but I would say 12, 13 of the holes are always on kind of like top of a little crest where everything repels away. It’s very hard to get it close. And sometimes you have wedges and you’re like, gosh, if I can get it six, eight feet, that’s a heck of a shot.

“Out here, the pins weren’t like they were easy, it’s just like they were what you would see when you play at like a challenging setup when you play at your home course.”

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