Valero Texas Open: Phil Mickelson struggles after fog delays starts of play
Last Updated: 28/03/14 3:35pm
Phil Mickelson endured an opening round to forget, carding a 77, before play was suspended on Thursday at the Valero Texas Open.
American duo Pat Perez and Andrew Loupe and New Zealand's Danny Lee were leading the way on four under when darkness halted proceedings, the start of the event having been held up by over two hours due to fog.
First round leaderboard
US unless stated
-4 P Perez
-4 D Lee (NZ)
-4 A Loupe (through 11 holes)
-3 W MacKenzie
-3 S-Yul Noh (Kor)
-3 C Beckman
-3 C Hadley
-3 J Hicks (through 15)
-3 M Angel Carballo (Arg) (through 14)
Mickelson is already nine shots off the pace after posting his highest score since a 78 last August at the USPGA Championship.
Hoping to find some form ahead of the Masters, the left-hander bogeyed all but one of the par threes on the Greg Norman-designed T&T Oaks Course, before closing with a double bogey on the ninth.
"I didn't putt well," said Mickelson, who had 17 putts on his closing nine holes. "I had a couple of three-putts that hurt. Iron play wasn't great. I didn't drive it bad, until that last hole."
In his previous two starts, the American has missed the cut in the Honda Classic and tied for 16th at Doral in the WGC-Cadillac Championship.
Perez and Lee both signed for scores of 68 while rookie Loupe will have to return on Friday to complete his round after being halted following his 11th hole.
It was an eventful day for the 25-year-old from Louisiana, who made six birdies and two bogeys after starting on the back nine.
Compatriot Perez had just one blemish on his scorecard, at the par-four 15th, although he followed that up with three successive birdies to close his round in emphatic style.
"I feel as confident as I ever have with my ball striking and where the ball is going to go and if I can make a couple putts, I feel like I can shoot a pretty good score," Perez said on the PGA Tour's official website.
Lee was level par for his round after 13 holes but also hit form in the closing stages, firing four birdies in his final five holes.
"I'm really believing in myself and I know I can do this," said Lee, who achieved his best ever result on the PGA Tour earlier this month with a second place finish in the Puerto Rico Open.
Chesson Hadley, who pipped Lee to victory in Rio Grande, was one of six players on three under par, while former major winners Zach Johnson, Ben Curtis and Jim Furyk are among those two back.
Defending champion Martin Laird made three birdies and as many bogeys in his level par round of 72.