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After watching his opening drive split the fairway then carrom into the rough, Phil Mickelson said, "Those things happen. You're going to get those unfortunate breaks." (Photo: Getty Images)

After rocky start, Mickelson 'gladly' accepts even-par 70

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Phil Mickelson bogeyed his first two holes of the 90th PGA Championship on Thursday but was unfazed and rallied for a five-birdie, five-bogey 70 that left Lefty feeling good about his resiliency and patience.

Dave Shedloski, PGATOUR.COM Senior Correspondent

BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- Phil Mickelson began his opening round of the final major championship of the year with a hybrid that split the middle of the 10th fairway and left him no shot at the green.

Welcome to Oakland Hills Country Club.

Mickelson, who bogeyed three of the last four holes at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio, on Sunday to lose the World Golf Championship-Bridgestone Invitational to Vijay Singh, seemed to be picking up where he left off on Thursday in the 90th PGA Championship when he bogeyed his first two holes.

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In fact, Mickelson bogeyed four of the first nine holes as he struggled to find a rhythm, but the 2005 PGA Champion showed his resilience on a breezy, sun-drenched morning and managed to scratch out an even-par 70 that left him relatively satisfied.

"I'll gladly take it," said Mickelson, who offset five bogeys with five birdies. "I'm just happy to have shot even par. "I think that after the start, bogeying the first two holes, I thought it was pretty good to hang in there, fight, and make some birdies."

Oh, yeah, the start; Mickelson's start was the epitome of what is commonly known in the game as "rub of the green." It can be a bad bounce, a poor lie, or an unlucky bit of fortune.

Mickelson, the highest ranked player in the field at No. 2 with the absence of defending champion Tiger Woods, had to accept all of those misfortunes on one swing after his tee shot on the 10th hole, his first of the round, landed in the middle of the fairway and then veered toward a bunker on the right. His ball stopped 2 inches from the edge. As a left-handed player -- he is right-handed in all other tasks -- Mickelson had to stand in the bunker for his second, which left him no chance to reach the putting surface because the ball was so far above his feet.

"Those things happen. You're going to get those unfortunate breaks," he said with a shrug.

Fortunately, after a second bogey at 11 -- that would be four in a row stretching back to Sunday -- Mickelson was able to make a few things happen to equalize the hiccups. He birdied 12, saved par with a 20-foot putt at 13, and then birdied the tough par-4 16th signature hole at Oakland Hills with a downhill 15-footer. At the par-3 17th he knocked a 4-iron to 2 feet for another birdie.

Mid-length birdies at Nos. 3 and 4, the latter from 25 feet after driving into a fairway bunker, got him to 1 under for the championship, but he bogeyed the ninth to end the day where he began -- at even.

Statistically, he shouldn't have been too displeased either. He hit eight fairways and 12 greens and got around the tricky Oakland Hills putting surfaces with 29 putts.

"Everybody is going to make bogeys. If you can just keep your round around par, you're going to be in the tournament, and so that's more the focus," Mickelson said. "What other guys do doesn't really matter because some will go up the leaderboard and come back. You just know that par is kind of the score that is going to be pretty good.

"It's challenging, but that's what we face in all the majors," he added. "That's the patience factor and one of the reasons why winning a major is always more difficult."

Mickelson has won three of them, but is without a win in a major this year. If patience is key to a major victory, Lefty already has shown he possesses plenty of it -- as well as resilience.

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