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Thursday, May 1, 2014
Phil Mickelson 1 back in Wells Fargo

By Bob Harig
ESPN.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Putting a disappointing Masters behind him, Phil Mickelson shot 67 in his first competitive round since missing the cut at Augusta National to finish a stroke behind first-round leader Angel Cabrera at the Wells Fargo Championship.

Mickelson missed the weekend at the Masters for just the second time as a pro and the first since 1997, but bounced back with a seven-birdie, two-bogey effort at Quail Hollow.

Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson, hitting out of the sand on the 14th, shot 67 Thursday in his first competitive round since missing the Masters' cut three weeks ago.

"You always have to let go of poor performance; it's part of the game of golf,'' said Mickelson, who is tied with Martin Flores, a shot behind Cabrera, the two-time major winner who shot 66. "Failing is a huge part of this game, especially playing professionally, and you have to let it go and move forward.

"There are too many great tournaments coming up to let a poor performance affect your upcoming events.''

Mickelson, 43, is at the start of a busy stretch that will see him play four tournaments over the next month -- including next week's Players Championship -- prior to the U.S. Open at Pinehurst.

Lefty has made no secret of his desire to capture the elusive U.S. Open -- he's been runner-up a record six times, including last year at Merion.

"I'm not going to deny it,'' Mickelson said. "And I do believe it will happen, whether it's Pinehurst or at an upcoming championship. I've played well in that tournament.''

He's also played well here. Mickelson has seven top-10 finishes at Quail Hollow in 10 appearances, including last year when he finished a shot out of a playoff won by Derek Ernst after bogeying two of the last three holes.

Since the 2013 tournament, all of the greens have been rebuilt and the 16th hole, a difficult par-4, has been moved 80 yards to the left to bring a water hazard into play.

"I've always loved the golf course; I just think it's one of the best I've seen,'' Mickelson said. "The greens are not just stupendous. They match up perfect with the beauty and the simplicity of the design, and I believe it is one of the best golf courses I've played.

"I'm excited to have a major championship coming here, and I'm excited about playing (the tournament) for many years to come.''

Quail Hollow will host the 2017 PGA Championship.

Mickelson, who won the 2005 PGA for one of his five major titles, hit just five fairways but managed to hit 13 greens in regulation Thursday. And he had 11 one-putt greens, including six in a row.

"It was a really good day for me, and I putted really, really good,'' he said. "It was a great day for me on the greens. There were some areas that I saw where I need to improve on, my chipping was not very good. But it was covered up by a couple of good par putts from longer distances than they should have been.''

Mickelson and Flores are a shot ahead of Jonathan Byrd, Stewart Cink and Webb Simpson.

Nine more players, including Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy, Martin Kaymer and Vijay Singh, are another stroke back after shooting 69.

Mickelson begins the second round on Friday at 8 a.m. ET with Rose and Lee Westwood, who shot 71.