Mickelson grabs attention, but Hemet grad Steele grabs the lead
By Sports Staff
By Mack Drake
@m_drake10 on Twitter
NAPA — Phil Mickelson drained his final putt on the practice green, picked it out of the hole and made a bee line straight for the first tee, which was surrounded by waves of patrons about 75 yards away.
“Go get ‘em Phil!” was echoed throughout the gallery as he made his way over. He responded with his signature tip of the cap and a thumbs up sign, as if to connect with each fan individually.
Phil is beloved here. Fans at Silverado Resort and Spa appreciate the fact that he committed to a second year at the Safeway Open after coming in a tie for eighth place last year in his tournament debut.
Mickelson could’ve passed. After all, he just wrapped up his 2016-2017 season by helping Team USA win the Presidents Cup in New Jersey last weekend. But Mickelson, who grew up in Southern California, likes it up here. There’s something about this season-opening tournament — yes, the Safeway Open marks the start of the 2017-2018 PGA Tour season — that Mickelson is drawn to.
Maybe it’s the wine. Or maybe it’s that he plays well here. He was the tournament headliner last year, and delivered with a top-10 finish. Thursday, he picked up right where he left off in the opening round of the Safeway Open, firing a solid three-under-par 69. Mickelson drained a 7-foot putt for birdie on No.18 and is tied for 13th.
“It was OK. It wasn’t exactly how I wanted to play starting out, but I didn’t hurt myself too much in the first round but I didn’t — I didn’t drive it the way I’ve been driving it,” Mickelson said. “This golf course, if I drive it well, my iron play’s going to give me a lot of good opportunities.”
Mickelson again drew […]