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Phil Mickelson made his first swings in the Tournament of Champions in over 20 years on Thursday, but it was two of his final swings of the day that showed off the ageing pro’s immense power and trademark style.
Mickelson arrived at the iconic par-5 18th hole at Kapalua’s Plantation Course at one under and needing to make something happen to finish off his opening round in Hawaii, and he didn’t disappoint. Kapalua’s 18th is a monstrous 675-yard par-5. But it also runs severely downhill, making its prodigious length a bit easier to handle for pros.
Despite his increasingly advanced aged, the 51-year-old Mickelson is hitting it longer than ever after adding a ton of length with his driver in recent years, and he putt it on full display on the final hole, both on the tee and off it.
Phil began the hole by pulling driver and smashing a 331-yard bomb down the center of the fairway. Unfortunately, that left him with over 330 yards left to cover before reaching the hole, and about 300 yards to reach the green.
Faced with a stark scenario, Mickelson had two choices: lay up and try to wedge it close for birdie, or pull out the big stick again and go for the green. Unsurpsingly, he chose the latter option and ripped a second-straight driver, this time off the deck, sending a huge slice/cut soaring down the fairway and onto the green. Check it out below.
The powerful approach left him with 81-feet to the hole, a distance he expertly dispatched in two putts to record a birdie-4 to finish the day. The birdie improved Mickelson’s score to two under, leaving him six shots behind first-round leader Cameron Smith.