Phil Mickelson was a late entry this year for the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio, and he might be wishing he would have missed it altogether on Thursday after a first-round 77 left him in a tie at No. 135. The worst part about it is that many of the 144 competitors have not finished their opening rounds after fog delayed the start of the tournament for 2 ½ hours.
Pat Perez and Danny Lee are the clubhouse leaders at minus 4 at the TPC San Antonio golf course, but there are at least three players who will finish up on Friday with a chance to match that score or better it. Andrew Loupe is at minus four with eight holes left to play. Justin Hicks and Miguel Carbello are at three under. Carbello had finished 14 holes, and Hicks was through 15.
Mickelson had not played in San Antonio in over 20 years and he played like it. Starting on number 10, he had three bogeys and two birdies and finished his first nine holes at one-over 37. Then things got bad. Still looking for his first top-10 finish of the year, Lefty had two bogeys and a double-bogey coming in, to finish at five over par; far from the top of the leaderboard at the Texas Valero Open. Three other players who finished their rounds were also at plus five, including Ricky Barnes, Kevin Kisner and Dudley Hart. If there is one positive for Mickelson, it is that he does not have to get up early on Friday to complete his round.
Perez is on a roll this year. He currently is No. 32 in the FedEx Cup standings and has missed only one cut in his 12 starts this year, with three top-10 finishes. Until the final three holes his first round had been somewhat pedestrian, standing one under par through 15. But he ended the day with three straight birdies to post 68, one shot ahead of playing partner Will MacKenzie, who carded five birdies and a double-bogey for 69. Also finishing their first rounds with three-under 69s were Cameron Beckman, Chesson Hadley and South Korean Seung-Yul Noh.
Also in the world of golf, in September the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews will ask their members to consider allowing women to become members for the first time ever. The club has been in existence for 260 years and has had an all-male membership since its inception. R & A club secretary Peter Dawson says there will be a lot of discussion on the matter between now and September, but he says “All indications are very supportive.”
Even if the vote goes the way of a female-inclusive membership, it will still exert no influence on whether the British Open is played on courses that still exclude women. Those courses include Muirfield, where Phil Mickelson won his first Open championship last year, Royal St. Georges and Royal Troon. Dawson was quick to add that the R & A was not going to “put pressure on the other clubs” to follow their lead. Nonetheless, it is a step in the right direction.
Golf Shots is a daily series which provides analysis and commentary on the PGA tour and golf-related topics all year long.
Commentary by Chuck Podhaisky