Phil Mickelson celebrates an eagle on the sixth hole during the first round of the Desert Classic golf tournament at La Quinta Country Club, California.  Picture: Chris Carlson/AP
Phil Mickelson celebrates an eagle on the sixth hole during the first round of the Desert Classic golf tournament at La Quinta Country Club, California. Picture: Chris Carlson/AP

Mickelson falls one shy of a magic 59

PHIL Mickelson came up just short of a magical 59 after carding 10 birdies and an eagle for a 60 in his opening round of the year at the Desert Classic in Southern California.

The five-time major champion needed birdies on his final two holes to become just the 11th player to record a sub-60 round on the PGA Tour, but a par on 17 scuppered his chances.

A birdie on 18 left him one stroke shy of the mark and three shots ahead of fellow American Adam Long.

Curtis Luck is the best of the Australians after the 22-year-old's opening round of 64.

Mickelson's round of 12-under at the La Quinta Country Club still represents the 48-year-old American's lowest score in relation to par.

His round came as he started his 27th full season as a professional.

"Sometimes you have those days where it all clicks," he said.

"The bad shots I hit I was able to get away with and didn't have the big score. And I made a lot of birdies.

"It was a fun day but I certainly did not expect this to be the case."

Perth-based Luck missed three consecutive cuts before Christmas but it didn't take him long to find his touch in 2019.

Playing in his first full US PGA season, Luck had three consecutive birdies on the front nine and eight for the day in a bogey-free 64 at the La Quinta course.

In other circumstances, Luck might have seen him closer to the lead but veteran Mickelson made everything, including chip-ins, to shoot a remarkable opening round.

The Desert Classic is the only PGA Tour event to yield two sub-60 rounds.

David Duval had a 59 at PGA West's PGA West's Palmer Course when he won in 1999. Adam Hadwin shot 59 at La Quinta in 2017.

Top-ranked Justin Rose, also making his 2019 debut, had a 68 at La Quinta - one of three courses used in the event.

He's the first No.1 player to play the tournament since the world rankings began in 1986.

- Reuters

News Corp Australia

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