By Ann Liguori
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Lefty made it seem like just another day at the office in round one of the U.S. Open. Phil Mickelson jetted in from the West Coast early on Thursday morning after making the cross-country flight on his private jet this past Tuesday to attend his daughter’s eighth-grade graduation. He returned just in time to make his early morning start on Thursday.
And what a day he had!
He started on the 11th hole with a three-putt bogey, and then birdied the 13th before the rain delay. Three-and-a-half hours later play resumed, and with three birdies on the front nine, Mickelson took over the lead and finished with a 3 under 67, a score that led all afternoon into early evening.
Luke Donald, with three straight birdies on holes 11, 12 and 13, grabbed the sole lead at 4 under before darkness suspended play.
But it was Mickelson’s day because of his solid 3 under 67, and it was punctuated by his cross country trip, arriving just in time to tee it up.
“It’s not out of the ordinary,” Mickelson said of the fact that he takes flights overnight during tournament week. “I do it six to 10 times a year.”
Mickelson said that he couldn’t miss his daughter’s graduation.
“I told her I didn’t want to miss her graduation speech.” Mickelson said. “She spent nine years at that school and I’m very proud of her.”
Mickelson said that he slept a couple of hours on the plane, napped an hour before playing and then caught another hour-long nap during the rain delay.
Mickelson played Merion last week and said he didn’t feel that he needed more hours on the East Course.
“The day before the tournament, I like to play a course elsewhere,” he said. “I was able to practice in good weather conditions.”
After his round, perhaps Mickelson made USGA officials very happy when he said that Merion has “withstood the test of time and it’s testing the best players in the world … this is the best U.S. Open setup ever!”
“With little wind and the soft fairways today, this is as easy as this course is going to play,” added Mickelson.
His words came a day after USGA officials were defending the fact that scores under par don’t make a bad U.S. Open, and that the U.S. Open is not about the score.
Mickelson’s 43rd birthday is on Sunday. It’s Father’s Day as well, and the golfer continues to show that he’s committed to being a good dad.
He has never won a U.S. Open title, but has been a runner-up five times.
So maybe this is the year for Lefty — with or without sleep!
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