The big names got the easiest of the three courses in the Desert Classic rota, including Phil Mickelson, who opened his year with a 12-under 60 Thursday at La Quinta Country Club. Here’s everything you need to know after Round 1 in La Quinta, Calif.:
Leaderboard: Phil Mickelson (-12), Adam Long (-9), Curtis Luck (-8), Wyndham Clark (-7), Trey Mullinax (-7), Adam Hadwin (-7), Martin Laird (-7)
What it means: What rust? Mickelson tweeted before the tournament that he was feeling “a bit rusty.” He showed none of that in his opening round as he flirted with 59 before setting a new PGA Tour career-best round in terms of relation to par. Mickelson has now shot 60 three times in 2,077 career Tour rounds, his previous two 60s coming at the Phoenix Open. He is the first player in Tour history to have three rounds of 60 or better. Two players have shot 59 at the Desert Classic, David Duval on PGA West’s Palmer Course in 1999 and Adam Hadwin at LQCC in 2017.
Full-field scores from the Desert Classic
Desert Classic: Articles, photos and videos
Round of the day: With no ShotLink data available for LQCC, it’s impossible to statistically measure just how good Mickelson’s opening round was. But anytime a player makes 10 birdies and an eagle, it is automatic round-of-the-day material. Mickelson was 11 under through 16 holes before missing a 15-footer for birdie on the par-4 17th hole. Needing to hole out from the fairway at the par-4 18th to break 60, Mickelson instead settled for a closing birdie.
Best of the rest: Adam Long, coming off three straight missed cuts, is alone in second after a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Australia’s Curtis Luck, the 2016 U.S. Amateur champion and this year a PGA Tour rookie, recorded his best round on the PGA Tour, an 8-under 64 at LQCC. His previous best was a 67 at the 2017 Quicken Loans National. Hadwin posted a dazzling 7-under 65 on PGA West’s Stadium Course, the toughest of the three courses. Defending champion Jon Rahm opened with 66 on LQCC.
Biggest disappointment: Jason Dufner won this event in 2016. On Thursday, he fired a 7-over 79 at the Nicklaus Tournament Course, the worst round of the day.
Main storyline entering Friday: While Mickelson is off to a hot start in the desert, he did play the easiest of the three courses in the rota. (LQCC had the lowest scoring average in Round 1 at 69.4.) The good news: Mickelson will play another gettable layout, the Nicklaus (69.7), on Friday. Even better news: The last time Mickelson opened an event in 60? It was at the 2013 Phoenix Open, which he went on to win.
Shot of the day: Mickelson kept his #59watch alive with this chip-in for birdie at the par-4 14th hole that moved him to 10 under. Maybe those chipping-lesson videos helped.
Quote of the day: “It was kind of a lucky day for me. … Somehow it just clicked.” – Mickelson