PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Phil Mickelson has been coming to the Pebble Beach Pro-Am since 1995 and has won it four times, so there is not much he has not accomplished along the Monterey Peninsula.
Until Thursday, when Mickelson delivered something new: He did not miss a single fairway.
“History was made today,” Mickelson said after shooting 6-under-par 65 on the Monterey Peninsula course, leaving him and Matt Every one shot behind Brian Gay and Scott Langley after one round. “To the best of my knowledge, it’s taken me 27 years and a few months to hit all fairways in a single round in competition. I may have done it before, but I don’t ever recall doing it.”
His accuracy was better than his memory. According to the PGA Tour, Mickelson has done it seven times, most recently 21 years ago at Torrey Pines. Perhaps more remarkable about that round in 1998 was that even playing from the short grass on every shot, he still had a 73.
That was not the case this time on an ideal day — perhaps the last beautiful day of the week — for scoring. Over three rain-softened tracks — the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula, Spyglass Hill and Pebble Beach — 59 players in the 156-man field shot in the 60s.
And there was no shortage of entertainment, as usual.
Brandt Snedeker was probably not thinking birdie when his tee shot on the par-5 18th at Pebble Beach missed left and bounced down to the sandy shore. He played it off the beach back to the fairway, hit a 7-iron to 10 feet and made the putt for a 69.
“I didn’t hit myself, I didn’t fall down getting out of the rocks down there — it was a little slippery,” Snedeker said. “So it all worked out great. I’m feeling like a genius right now, but at the time, I didn’t know.”
Bill Murray kept everyone laughing even after his round, when a volunteer asked him to sign his cap. Murray noticed Pat Perez had already signed it, looked at the scribbling on the bill of the cap and said, “He misspelled his name.”
And there was plenty of good golf along the way. Gay finished his front nine at Monterey Peninsula with five straight birdies. Langley, who shared low amateur honors in 2010 at Pebble Beach in the United States Open, made seven birdies in a 10-hole stretch in the middle of his round at Monterey Peninsula. He finished with a birdie to pull even with Gay.
Cody Gribble had a 6-under 66 at Spyglass Hill, and Si Woo Kim had a 6-under 66 at Pebble Beach.
Dustin Johnson, not so fresh after his victory Sunday halfway around the world at the Saudi International, did not look the worse for wear. He had a 5-under 66 at Monterey Peninsula despite a few wobbly moments late when he bladed a bunker shot on the 15th hole for his only bogey and drove into bushes and had to take a penalty drop on the par-5 16th, where he managed to save par.
He played in his usual group with the hockey great Wayne Gretzky, Jordan Spieth and the country singer Jake Owen. Spieth chipped in for birdie and made plenty others to join Johnson at 66.
It was not easy for everyone. The defending champion, Ted Potter Jr., made two birdies on his opening nine holes at Spyglass and still shot 42. The next nine were not much better, and his 82 matched his high score on the tour.
A few clouds began to arrive from the Pacific, with more on the way. The forecast is for rain and wind at various points over the next two days, perhaps into Sunday. The starting times were moved up an hour on Friday.
“If you don’t score well out here, you put yourself behind a bit, and it’s tough to make up when we got weather coming in because you’re trying to force it,” Spieth said. “I don’t feel like I need to force anything tomorrow.”
Johnson does not get worked up over much, weather included. Looking left at the sun over the ocean, he said, “I’d like to have this weather the rest of the week.” Told there was little chance, Johnson shrugged.
“I don’t mind it,” he said. “I like playing in bad weather.”