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LIV Golf

Anthony KIm bested one player in LIV first round, thanks to Phil Mickelson's 80(!)

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Eurasia Sport Images

Anybody checking out the overnight LIV Golf leaderboard from Hong Kong on Friday morning likely made a quick scroll to the bottom. Why? Because that’s probably the dwelling spot for Anthony Kim, who is making his second start this week after a 12-year absence from the pro game. Given the rust, Kim predictably finished last a week ago in Saudi Arabia, shooting 16 over to be 11 shots behind the next-worst scorer.

So today, it was scroll, scroll, scroll, and there at the bottom was … Phil Mickelson … with an 80! We did not see that coming. That score was four shots worse than AK, who shot six-over 76 at Hong Kong Golf Club.

On his card, Lefty made three double bogeys, including on his last hole, four bogeys and no birdies. Considering that eight players shot six under or better, with co-leaders Dean Burmeister and Abraham Ancer at seven under, Mickelson’s struggles are a true head-scratcher. Was he sick? Injured? With so little legitimate media coverage out of Hong Kong, we don’t know.

It was noted in Mickelson’s pre-tournament press conference on Thursday that he had heavy taping on a finger on his left hand, though photos from the opening round showed no bandage on the hand. “I just had a little cut that I’m trying to keep from bleeding today in the pro-am,” Mickelson said. “I may not have it tomorrow [for the first round]. It’s fine.”

Mickelson, the oldest player in LIV at 53, was coming off a ninth-place finish last week in which he was encouraged by his progress.

“I started to find some things in my game that I'm hoping to build on and continue solid play going into Hong Kong's event, going into this week,” Mickelson said.

For being the former PGA Tour player who was most instrumental in getting LIV off the ground—and reportedly got $200 million for it—the six-time major winner has not been a competitive factor at all in the league. In 23 starts over two-plus seasons, Mickelson has three top-10 finishes and hasn’t come close to winning, with an eighth in Chicago in 2022 as his best result.

As for the 38-year-old Kim, he opened his round going bogey-double bogey, was five over after five holes and made just one birdie. He is tied for next-to-last with three-time PGA Tour winner Hudson Swafford.