Mickelson just misses out on the magical 59

Phil Mickelson encourages his 59th shot to drop on his final hole during the first round of the Phoenix Open yesterday.

Phil Mickelson encourages his 59th shot to drop on his final hole during the first round of the Phoenix Open yesterday.


US Tour:A lipped-out putt from 25 feet was all that prevented Phil Mickelson from scoring a magical 59 in the first round of the Phoenix Open in Scottsdale Arizona yesterday.

Mickelson’s birdie putt on his final hole did a 180 degree spin around the hole, dipping halfway down as it circled the cup, before stopping inches away for a tap-in par.

In the end, Mickelson tied the TPC Scottsdale course record, one he already shared, with an 11-under-par 60 to grab the clubhouse lead.

“The last six feet . . . should have been right in the middle,” Mickelson said. “You don’t get chances to shoot a 59 very often so I’m mortified it didn’t go in.”

On the day he made 11 birdies and no bogeys. “I’m ecstatic with 60, don’t get me wrong,” he said. Mickelson, who started on the 10th, fired off four consecutive birdies and added three more to complete a 29 on his opening nine. On the back nine he birdied the first, third, fourth and seventh to get to 11 under for the day.

Pádraig Harrington opened his challenege with a seven-under-par bogey-free 64 to share second place with Ryan Palmer, Ted Potter and Brandt Snedeker.

Former world number one Vijay Singh pulled out of the tournament before the start after admitting he had used a deer antler spray which has previously been found to contain a banned growth hormone.

The 49-year-old Fijian, now facing the possibility of a worldwide suspension, withdrew after issuing a statement in which he said: “While I have used deer antler spray, at no time was I aware that it may contain a substance that is banned under the PGA Tour Anti-Doping Policy.

“In fact, when I first received the product I reviewed the list of ingredients and did not see any prohibited substance. I am absolutely shocked deer antler spray may contain a banned substance and am angry that I have put myself in this position.

“I have been in contact with the PGA Tour and am co-operating fully with their review of this matter. I will not be commenting further at this time.”

Singh, currently ranked 89th in the world, was quoted in a Sports Illustrated investigation as saying he used the spray “every couple of hours . . . every day” and was “looking forward to some change in my body”.

Deer antler spray is manufactured by Sports with Alternatives to Steroids (Swats) and it has been found to contain the banned IGF-1, a natural anabolic hormone that stimulates muscle growth.

Scientific research has shown that velvet deer antler improves heart strength, stamina, joint health, muscle and strength development plus athletic performance.

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