124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2

The Loop

With wife Amy on the trip, Mickelson starts strong

April 08, 2010

AUGUSTA, GA. -- Phil Mickelson's expression portrayed frustration, even anger. His last birdie putt of the day had skirted the outside of the hole, and at least for a moment, Mickelson looked as if he wanted to toss his putter into the crowd..

With all the body language of a guy who could barely break 80, Mickelson was instead putting the finishing touches a five-under 67, assuring the two-time Masters champion a  share of the first-round lead.

"That putt I hit, I can't believe it did not go in," Mickelson said.

If this was what counted for disappointment on Thursday for Mickelson, consider it a success. With one torrid stretch on the back nine that included a 30-footer for eagle on No. 13, and then birdies on 14 and 15, Mickelson posted his lowest opening round of the season, and reaffirmed his claim that he was about to emerge from his early-season funk.

"But there's just something about this place that when I get on the golf course, I don't feel like I have to be perfect," Mickelson said. "It relaxes me.  I'm able to free up my swing and let my short game save me if I make a couple of bad shots. "

"He hit it great," swing coach Butch Harmon said.

That Mickelson had fared well in the opening round was secondary to what he was returning to after the round was over. While not at the golf course, wife Amy had made the trip to Augusta, the first time she had traveled to a tournament since last May's Players Championship.

"Just the fact that she's here at all is cool," MIckelson said.

-- Sam Weinman