Mickelson's 450-yard drive leads to birdie

March, 7, 2013
DORAL, Fla. -- Phil Mickelson found a cart path on the 17th hole after hitting his tee shot well to the right, the ball rolling and rolling and rolling some more.

It came to rest 450 yards from the tee on the 419-yard hole -- but still on a cart path. He ended up hitting his shot from there and knocking it close enough to make a birdie.

"You hit the ball in as much trouble as I do off the tee, you learn to hit those kind of shots and have enough practice at it, I kind of knew what was going to happen," he said.

Mickelson shot 67 and is 1 stroke off the lead shared by one of his playing partners, Bubba Watson. Steve Stricker was the other member of the group. He shot 67, too.

This is the 28th time that Tiger Woods has held or shared a first-round lead, and 13 times he has gone on to victory. But the last was at this tournament in 2006 -- when it was the American Express Invitational.

One of the oddities of the WGC-Cadillac Championship is the two-tee start in threesomes for just 65 players. It seems to rob golf fans of a longer, more enjoyable day of spectating. The tee times began at 11:20 a.m. ET and concluded at 1:10 p.m. ET.

Although there was constant action then on both nines, it takes away from the all-day atmosphere of a tournament. Clearly some of this is done for television purposes, because more players are on the course at the same time, offering more options. But it's a bad deal for fans.

And when the weekend comes, the tournament then reverts to twosomes off the first tee. Why not Thursday-Friday?

Rickie Fowler's first two rounds at Doral might present a professional golf first for him: being the oldest player in his threesome.

Fowler, 24, shot 69 during the first round. Denmark's Thorbjorn Olesen is 23, while Italy's Matteo Manassero is 19.