Phil Mickelson combined a fast start with a slow finish that equaled a four-under par 68 in his first competitive round in 2016, and is four behind the leaders in the CareerBuilder Challenge in La Quinta, Calif.
Mickelson played the final five holes of the front nine at La Quinta Country Club in five-under par, including a holed second shot for eagle at the par-4 eighth hole. But he played the back nine in one-over par 37.
“It was a fun start to the year,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of time off. It was fun to get back in the swing of it. We had a beautiful day here, the weather was spectacular and the golf course was great. I had a good solid round. It was a good way to start.”
Jason Dufner, meanwhile, was among four to record scores of eight-under par 64 to share the first round lead. Jerry Kelly, Jeff Overton and Anirban Lahiri of India also shot 64s. Dufner and Overton played the Nicklaus Tournament Course while Kelly and were at La Quinta CC, the two easiest courses of the three in the rotation.
The de facto leader might be Canadian Adam Hadwin, who recorded a six-under par on the Stadium Course at PGA West, which played the most difficult of the three courses. Hadwin is tied for eighth.