Phil Mickelson shoots 66 at BMW. Marc Leishman leads with 62.
Have you had your Phil?
A funny thing happened on the way to the youth movement at the BMW championship at Conway Farms.
Phil Mickelson, 47, celebrated being named to the Presidents Cup team by shooting a bogey-free 5-under-par 66. That left him tied for 10th, four shots behind leader Marc Leishman (62).
FedEx Cup leader Jordan Spieth took another step closer to the PGA’s season title by shooting a 65. That put him in a fifth-place tie. Jason Day, Charley Hoffman and Jamie Lovemark, who shot 64s, are second.
But Mickelson’s name near the top of the leaderboard was a pleasant surprise.
‘‘I certainly feel a lot less pressure now,’’ the popular left-hander said after going low in his first competitive round since Steve Stricker made Mickelson a captain’s pick last week. ‘‘I was really feeling the heat. I’m so excited to be on the team.’’
Building on a sixth-place finish at the previous FedEx Cup event, in Boston, Mickelson credited some adjustments to reviving his game.
‘‘It’s fun to play a good, solid opening round and not feel like I’m having to play catchup the whole time,’’ Mickelson said. ‘‘I’m really excited with some simple changes I’ve made in the last month to get my game back. I think going bogey-free shows I’m much more in tune with each shot.’’
When Leishman got to 7-under after 12 holes, some were wondering if the 33-year-old Australian would be able to repeat the 59 that Jim Furyk posted here four years ago.
‘‘It entered my mind for a little bit,’’ said Leishman, who wound up with 10 birdies and a bogey. ‘‘I thought about it in New Orleans a couple of years ago, and got greedy and ended up bogeying a par-5. You don’t want to go making some silly bogeys and wrecking a really good round. But yeah, my game is feeling pretty good at the moment.’’
Meanwhile, Spieth, 24, emerged as the medalist in the day’s marquee threesome. He made six birdies in a bogey-free round playing alongside Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson, who are second and third in the FedEx standings.
Thomas, also 24, made three birdies in the final five holes to finish at 67. Johnson, who’s third in the FedEx Cup, shot an even-par 71 after starting the day 3-over on his first six holes.
If Spieth maintains this kind of consistency, he’s likely to collect the $10 million bonus that will go to the winner in Atlanta next week.
‘‘I felt like I really stole a few shots out of this golf course, ’’ said Spieth, who putted and scrambled well. ‘‘Which is rare — to feel like you scored better than you played.’’
Spieth was most impressed, though, with Leishman’s 62.
‘‘What a fantastic round,’’ Spieth said. ‘‘D.J. [Johnson] and I were talking about that on 16. He was playing in the group in front of us, same conditions. That was an incredible round.’’
Folllow me on Twitter @HerbGould and at TMGcollegesports.com