Phil Mickelson is well placed after the first day at the St Jude Classic in Memphis.
The American went into the tournament as one of the favourites to take the crown on Sunday and his form through the first 18 holes has left him in a position to live up to expectations.
‘Lefty’ managed to get to three under for the day, just two shots behind the current leader, the far less reputed Peter Malnati.
Malnati has never won a tournament on the PGA Tour and will, therefore, be expected to drop off, even after his impressive round today, and Mickelson is in a good position to capitalise if he does fall away.
Mickleson’s round was indifferent until the final four holes, where he made three birdies to elevate himself up the leaderboard and it made a big difference for him this season, with his form in the closing stages of rounds often what has let him down.
"It's something I've been struggling with, finishing the round strong," he said to the official website of the PGA Tour.
Mickleson’s form on the tour this season has been uncharacteristic, with him struggling to challenge at the right end of the competition in every tournament he has played so far.
The 43-year-old has yet to finish in the top ten in any of the 13 events he has played and he did not make the cut at the Masters, the first major of the year, a tournament he is normally so successful at.
As a result, he has revealed that he has been working on thinking ahead and visualising his next shot as he is playing.
"I'm trying to take a little more time behind the shot, doing a better job visualising the shot," he said. "The thing that's really helped me, I've been more creative, curving the ball more with the irons to try to get it close to the hole rather than just hitting a stock shot without curvature."
The round comes at an encouraging time as Mickelson goes US Open desperately short of form and confidence.
He has won every other major competition during his illustrious golfing career, but is yet to be victorious at the US Open, having finished in second positions six times.
This is his last chance to find some form before the tournament commences at Pinehurst next week.
And he will be hoping that this round is platform that can kick-start his campaign.
Mickelson is currently in tied seventh position at the close of round one, which was stopped early due to poor weather conditions.
It was also only the fifth time this season that he has shot a round under 70 to open, carding a score of 69 for the day, and if he can repeat that feat again tomorrow then he will surely have a shot of finding that elusive triumph that he craves so much.
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