Late birdie run keeps Mickelson ahead at Desert Classic

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Phil Mickelson birdied four of his last five holes Friday in the Desert Classic to take a two-stroke lead into the weekend in his first event of the year.

Mickelson left a birdie putt at the par-4 17th just short before sinking a birdie at No. 18 for the 60.

The American enjoyed a level-career best 60 at La Quinta Country Club on day one that saw him three shots ahead as play got under way at the Nicklaus Tournament Course on Friday.

Long fired a nine-under 63, while Australia's Curtis Luck is in third with a 64.

"I struck the ball every bit as well, I just didn't putt anywhere close to as well as I did yesterday", said Mickelson, the tournament victor in 2002 and 2004.

"Sometimes you have those days where it all clicks", he told Golf Channel.

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"I shot four (under) so I'll just have to come out tomorrow and shoot six or seven (under) to make up for it".

"Obviously I believe that I've made some good decisions and some good changes, and I feel confident about things".

"I didn't think this was going to be a day I would go low", said Mickelson.

Phil Mickelson celebrates an eagle on the sixth hole during the first round of the Desert Classic.

"I was giving it all I had, and I had a good chance", Mickelson said.

Luck has matched matched Mickelson with a tournament-leading 16 birdies, but both players will play the final two round on the tougher PGA West Stadium Course.

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It was one of just 37 rounds of 60 in PGA Tour history, and Mickelson owns three of them.

"I feel like I can play it aggressively with the way I'm hitting it off the tee".

Poom, 25, dubbed the "baby-faced assassin" for scoring upsets on the golf course, had beaten Casey by one hole in the EurAsia Cup that pitted European and Asian teams previous year in Malaysia.

"That was an interesting shot because I could have easily lost one and I ended up picking one up", he said.

He needed back-to-back birdies on his final two holes to shoot the elusive 59, but could only manage a par on the par-four 17th. Hadwin had a 66 at La Quinta, the course where he shot 59 two years ago.

Top-ranked Justin Rose had a 68 at La Quinta in his first start of the year.

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He's the first No.1 player to play the tournament since the world rankings began in 1986.

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