CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA | If Steve Wheatcroft and Andrew Loupe sharing the first-round lead at the Wells Fargo Championship on Thursday was a surprise, there was nothing unexpected about seeing Phil Mickelson’s name in contention again at Quail Hollow Club.
Mickelson, who has missed the cut in his past two PGA Tour starts, shot a 3-under-par 69 in the cool, breezy conditions to sit just four behind the co-leaders at a place that has teased Mickelson for more than a decade.
In 13 previous starts at Quail Hollow, Mickelson has eight top-10 finishes without a victory. Only the U.S. Open, where he has 10 top-10 finishes without a trophy, has been a more elusive target for Mickelson.
There was no real drama to Mickelson’s opening round, though he had two bogeys. He kept the ball in play off the tee and managed the speedy putting surfaces, which demanded players put approach shots in the proper section of each green.
Mickelson dismissed his missed cuts at The Masters and the Valero Texas Open, saying he didn’t dwell on them. He was on the leaderboard at The Masters for a time on Friday before his game came unraveled, costing him the weekend.
It’s been nearly three years since Mickelson’s last victory – the 2013 Open Championship – but his game has been more consistent this season since going to work with swing coach Andrew Gatson.
One day into the Wells Fargo Championship, Mickelson sounded encouraged about where he’s playing and how he’s playing.
“I’m going to keep knocking on the door,” Mickelson said.