Phil Mickelson made all the pre-tournament headlines and had one of the highlights of the day on Friday, but it’s another lefty, Mike Weir, who stole the show in the opening round of the PGA Tour Champions Cologuard Classic.
Playing in the last group to tee off on No. 1, Weir fired a bogey-free 66 to take a one-shot lead over Scott Verplank at the Omni Tucson National Resort in Tucson, Arizona.
It’s Weir’s lowest opening-round in 12 starts on the Champions circuit, giving him his first first-round lead on the tour. His previous best Champions Tour finish was second—to Mickelson—in the Dominion Energy Charity Classic last August.
“Now you have to keep the pedal down, you have to keep playing well,” he said. “But this is a quirky golf course, you have to play smart. There’s certain holes here. … it gets your attention.”
Weir’s last victory anywhere came in Arizona at the 2007 Fry’s Electronics Open at Grayhawk in Scottsdale.
Verplank opened with a 67 after he holed out from a bunker on the ninth hole, his last. Paul Goydos, Jeff Sluman and Kevin Sutherland all shot 68s and sit two back of the lead.
Mickelson shot a 3-under 70 on the par-73 track. He had three birdies on each nine but bogeyed the 11th and doubled the 13th. On the par-5 15th, after his ball just about went into a lake, Mickelson submerged his shoes in the mud to hit his second shot. He went on to make birdie.
— PGA TOUR Champions (@ChampionsTour) February 26, 2021
“On 15 I laid up with a 5-iron to stay short of the water. I wanted to try to be in the right rough because it shortens the second shot by 30 yards,” he said. “It’s 237 to the water, into the wind, hit 5-iron and went in the water. I couldn’t believe it. It was a little upsetting to say the least. … it was in the mud, I could hit it. So I got in there with a 9-iron and was able to lay up, and hit another 9-iron close and make birdie, which was crazy. It kind of calmed me down for the last few holes.”
Defending champion Bernhard Langer is T-14 after shooting a 71. Former Arizona Wildcat and local favorite Jim Furyk is T-28 after posting a 1-under 72.
Other scores of note: Steve Stricker (-4), Fred Couples (-2), Ernie Els (E), John Daly (+4) and John Smoltz (+4).
original article link https://golfweek.usatoday.com/2021/02/26/mike-weir-66-pga-tour-champions-cologuard-classic-arizona/