Phil Mickelson still four ahead at Phoenix Open

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PHIL Mickelson still held a commanding four-shot lead when the frost-delayed first round of the Phoenix Open was completed in Scottsdale, Arizona yesterday.

The American left-hander fired a sizzling 11-under-par 60 in ideal scoring conditions at the TPC Scottsdale on Thursday, lipping out with a birdie putt on his final hole in his bid for a magical 59.

Thirty-three players were still out on the course when play was suspended for the day and, of those, American Roberto Castro made the biggest move when the round finally ended yesterday morning.

Little-known Castro birdied two of his last four holes, the 15th and 17th, to card a 65, finishing five strokes off the pace along with ten others.

Mickelson’s closest challengers were fellow Americans Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Palmer, Jeff Maggert and Ted Potter Jr, as well as Irishman Padraig Harrington, who all completed the opening round on Thursday.

For the second round, huge galleries were again expected to monitor Mickelson’s progress over the Scottsdale layout. The 42-year-old is a fans favourite wherever he plays and especially here given that he studied at the nearby Arizona State University. “It was a fun day, and I’m excited to shoot 60,” Mickelson said of his opening round. “But to see that last putt lip out the way it did and not go in, it’s crushing because you don’t get that chance very often to shoot 59.”