Ardmore, PA – We have known for a while that Phil Mickelson is one of a kind. He certainly does his own thing.
Some weeks he carries two drivers and other weeks, like this one, no drivers. He skips the Match Play event in Arizona frequently because his kids are out of school that week so he takes the family on a vacation.
This week, he left Merion Golf Club on Monday and decided to fly home. He headed for his daughter's graduation from grade school.
People think he was nuts for doing so, but golfers have been doing things like this since Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer were in their primes.
Mickelson is clearly still in his prime. After flying back east overnight, he arrived at the course about 90 minutes before his tee time, then had to sit through a 3-hour, 32-minute weather delay.
Despite all that, Mickelson started the 113th U.S. Open with a 3-under 67, which at the time he left the course, was good for a 1-stroke lead over Jerry Kelly.
Mickelson 3-putted for bogey on his opening hole, the 11th. He erased that mistake with a birdie on the short par-3 13th.
After five pars in a row, the five-time U.S. Open runner-up birdied the first from long range as his ball dropped into the cup on its last revolution. He parred his next five after that.
"I got a little caffeine boost there at the turn," Mickelson joked. "Luckily, I didn't go in the water on No. 5. I knocked it down there to where I had a sand wedge in, and hit that to about 12 feet and made the putt. Then, I made a 7- or 8-footer at the sixth. Those are the pars that keep the momentum going in rounds like this."
Mickelson later birdied the seventh and came back two holes later with a 22- foot birdie effort at the par-3 ninth. He parred his last to head to the clubhouse with a 1-shot lead over Kelly, who was on the 17th at the time.
Nicolas Colsaerts opened with a 1-under 69, while former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, Tim Clark and Kelly, who double-bogeyed the 18th, all shot even-par 70.
Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson and Steve Stricker opened with 1-over 71s.