CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Phil Mickelson was entertaining to the very end Thursday and finished one shot behind Angel Cabrera in the first round of the Wells Fargo Championship.
Cabrera played in early, calmer conditions and thrived on the new Bermuda greens at Quail Hollow. He made seven birdies, including a 40-footer from just off the green, and turned in a 6-under 66 that stood as the lead the rest of the day.
Mickelson caught him twice and couldn’t hold it.
Coming off his first missed cut at the Masters in 17 years, Mickelson handled the strong, swirling wind in the afternoon for a 5-under 67, tied with Martin Flores. Mickelson hit only one fairway on the back nine.
He bogeyed both the par 3s. He chipped poorly and atoned for that with long par putts.
I made a lot of really good putts today, and it covered up some very poor chips – a number of poor chips 15, 20 feet from the hole that should be tap-ins, Mickelson said. Ended up making three out of the four, so it covered up a lot of mistakes.
Mickelson wound up with the start he wanted at a tournament he badly wants to win.
It was important for me to get off to a good start today because I haven’t played as well as I would like to this year, and I haven’t been getting off to great starts, Mickelson said. So I’m always playing from behind. And it feels great to get off to a quick start where I don’t have to feel like I’m playing catch-up.
Webb Simpson, the former U.S. Open champion and a member at Quail Hollow, might have joined Cabrera except for the way he finished each nine.
He took double bogey on No. 9 when he hit into the trees and three-putted, and made bogey on No. 18 with another wayward tee shot. Other than that, his card was filled with seven birdies for a 68.
Stewart Cink and Jonathan Byrd also were at 68.
Cabrera made a couple of long putts to post his lowest score of the year and only his fourth round this year in the 60s.
It was a very good first round, and we have a lot to go, the Argentine said through a translator.
LPGA: In Irving, Texas, Suzann Pettersen shot a bogey-free 5-under 66 to take the first-round lead in the North Texas LPGA Shootout.
Pettersen, who returned to the LPGA Tour last week after missing a month with back issues, had a one-stroke lead over playing partner Cristie Kerr, Michelle Wie, Caroline Masson, Christina Kim, Cydney Clanton and Dori Carter.
Top-ranked Inbee Park, the defending champion, and Texas native Stacy Lewis, the highest-ranked American at No. 3, both shot 71 at Las Colinas Country Club.
Pettersen took sole possession of the lead when she birdied Nos. 7 and 8, her 16th and 17th holes of the day.
EUROPEAN: In Singapore, Thailand’s Panuphol Pittayarat had a bogey-free 9-under 63 to take the first-round lead in The Championship at Laguna National.
American David Lipsky was a stroke back along with Scotland’s Scott Jamieson, South Korea’s Kim Byung-jun and Singapore’s Quincy Quek.
The event, sanctioned by the European and Asian tours, was moved from South Korea to Singapore three weeks ago after it lost its title sponsor and the promoter failed to reach an agreement with a suitable venue.