NAPA, Calif. — Phil Mickelson had six straight birdies and shot a 7-under 65 on Thursday to pull within two strokes of leader Sepp Straka in the PGA Tour's season-opening Safeway Open.
Coming off a winless performance in the U.S. Ryder Cup loss to Europe, the 48-year-old Mickelson birdied Nos. 9-14 and closed with four straight pars on the North Course at Silverado Resort and Spa.
"I don't know exactly what got round going for sure, but the birdie on nine was good," Mickelson said. "I made good long putts on 12 and 13."
Straka birdied the final three holes for a 63. The Austrian played alongside Mark Mulder, the former major league pitcher who opened with a 75.
Chase Wright had a 64, playing the last three holes in 4 under with an eagle on the par-5 16th and two birdies. He's playing in his second career PGA Tour event after earning a card in the Web.com Tour Finals.
"It's been a great year," Wright said. "I know I should be here and I'm not by any means surprised about this. My last two competitive rounds were 64, so I think if I keep that up I'll be just fine."
Brandt Snedeker, Alex Prugh, J.T. Poston, Mackenzie Hughes, Sam Saunders, Sungjae Im and Adam Long shot 66.
"I just stayed patient," said Snedeker, who had an opening 59 in his Wyndham Championship victory in August. "I just kind of worked my way back into after not playing for the past four weeks and getting some rest. I was driving it great all day."
Two-time defending champion Brendan Steele had a 67, playing alongside Mickelson.
Fred Couples, the Hall of Famer who turned 59 on Wednesday, had a 73 in his first PGA Tour round since the Masters in April.
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