Lytham St. Annes, England – Phil Mickelson was stunned to find that his second shot at the par-5 18th was out of bounds. He saw the ball land and thought it was in play.
Worse off, he walked all the way up to his ball before being told his ball was OB. That led to him going back and hitting his fourth shot from the fairway. Mickelson found heavy rough with that shot, but managed to get up and down for bogey.
That closed out a round of 2-over 74. He ended in a tie for 84th, but is eight strokes off the lead. The weather is supposed to worsen on Friday, especially early in the day while Mickelson is on the course.
On Thursday, Mickelson struggled down the stretch. He opened with six pars in a row, then pulled a short par putt on the seventh and made bogey. Mickelson got that shot back with a birdie on the ninth and made it two in a row with a birdie on No. 10.
Mickelson missed the green at the 13th and failed to get up and down for par. That dropped him to even-par. He followed with another bogey on the 14th before a closing bogey left him at plus-2.
"I drove the ball well and had good control over each iron shot, and the score sucks. Two-over par is terrible, but it's as good as I've hit it in a long time," said Mickelson, whose lone top-10 finish was at Abu Dhabi early in the season. "I'm really not overly concerned or disappointed. I don't like the score, but I love the way I'm playing. It's very encouraging to me. It's the best I've hit it in well over a year."
ELS FALTERS AFTER OPENING TEE SHOT
Hitting a fan with a shot is never a good thing for a golfer, and that is exactly how Ernie Els' round started. He hit a fan in the crowd left of the first fairway.
Els checked on the fan after hitting his second shot, and there were some laughs as he walked away towards the green. But, something bothered Els.
The two-time Open champion missed a short bogey putt, then tried to tap-in back-handed and missed that. He finally kicked in a short effort for triple- bogey.
Els bogeyed two of the next three holes to fall to plus-5. Back-to-back bogeys from the sixth dropped him further down the leaderboard. After four pars in a row, he bogeyed the 12th to fall to 8-over par.
The South African finally made a birdie at the par-5 16th. He parred the final two holes to post 79.
SINGLETON LIVES EVERY PLAYERS DREAM
John Singleton is a factory worker in Liverpool, and his day job isn't far from Royal Liverpool. Yes, his day job.
Singleton, who turns 30 on Sunday, was one of the qualifiers for the year's third major and lived every players dream of teeing it up at the Open Championship.
After eight straight pars, Singleton dropped a shot on the ninth. Around the turn, he atoned for the mistake with a birdie on the 10th. Things were about to change, unfortunately.
Singleton didn't make another birdie. He faltered to a double-bogey on the 12th, then bogeyed four of five holes from the 13th to tumble to plus-6. He ended there, but it didn't matter.
"It was way better than anything I ever thought. Walking to the first tee, my legs were and my heart was racing," Singleton stated. "I was terrified (on No. 1). I piped it. I hit it so good. I hit it so far, and I could have just left then and I'd have been fine."
He didn't walk off, and despite the 78, finished the dream.
* Since 1975, just five first-round leaders have gone on to win the championship, and three of the 12 first-round leaders at Royal Liverpool have gone on to win.
* Sergio Garcia is playing his 61st consecutive major this week, and 63rd overall. He has the second-most major championship starts without a win, trailing Lee Westwood by two.
* There were three bogey-free rounds and they were posted by Rory McIlroy, Thomas Bjorn and Ryan Moore.
* Ashley Chesters, the reigning European Amateur champion, carded a 2-under 70 and is the leader in the low amateur race. He is also the low Englishman after one round.
* Former British Amateur champ Bryden MacPherson struggled to an 18-over 90. He shot 49 on the back nine with two double-bogeys, a triple-bogey and a quadruple-bogey.
* The par-4 seventh was the most difficult hole on day one. There were just five birdies as the field averaged 4.429 strokes on the hole.
* The 10th was the easiest hole in the opening round. Players averaged just 4.59 strokes on the par-5.