After his win at Pebble Beach the previous week, Phil Mickelson hasn't skipped a beat at the 2012 Northern Trust Open, taking the lead by one after shooting a first round score of 66.
I could tell Mickelson was going to have a great day just watching him play on the first hole. Mickelson hit a below average tee shot into the left rough, but then hit a long iron 220 yards to about 20 feet for an eagle putt on the par 5. It was an amazing shot and that was when I first realized that Phil is still riding the momentum he gained from the win last week at Pebble Beach.
Mickelson went on to make six birdies and one bogey on the day for a five-under 66 at the par 71 Riviera Country Club. While he wasn't as consistent with the driver as he was the previous week (only 50% driving accuracy), Phil hit over 70% of greens in regulation and gave himself great opportunities to make birdie putts.
The second round will be key for Mickelson at the Northern Trust Open; if he can follow up his first round with another round in the mid to high 60's I have a good feeling that he will win the event, but if he shoots in the low to mid 70's he could give everyone else behind him an opportunity to take the event from him. If I had to make a prediction, I would say that Phil wins this event, just based off of seeing his play during the first round. He was striking the ball beautifully and made some great putts all throughout his round. Phil seems to have that confidence and it doesn't look like anyone will be able to stop him but himself.
Among the other notables, J.B. Holmes and Hunter Mahan are one back of Mickelson at -4 overall, and Luke Donald shot a steady first round score of one under 70 to put him in a tie for fourteenth.
Ryan Kekoufski is a scratch golfer who has both played and watched the sport for over a decade. He covers sports for the Yahoo! Contributor Network, and currently resides in Virginia.