Former champion Phil Mickelson equalled the lowest score in major championship history to take the lead on the first day of the Open Championship at Royal Troon. The American agonisingly lipped out with a putt to claim the outright record.
Mickelson, who has not won a tournament since lifting the Claret Jug at Muirfield in 2013, needed to hole from 15 feet on the 18th to card a nine-under-par 62, only to see his attempt catch the edge of the hole and stay out. The 46-year-old could barely believe it as he had to settle for a flawless 63 and a three-shot lead over compatriot Patrick Reed with Martin Kaymer also five under. Defending champion Zach Johnson is a further shot back on four under.
Mickelson, who finished a shot outside the play-off the last time the Open was staged at Troon in 2004, had never shot lower than 66 in the Open before, with his last such score sealing victory three years ago.The left-hander took advantage of the wind dropping in the afternoon to card four birdies on the front nine and four more on the back as he looks to follow in the footsteps of compatriots Arnold Palmer, Tom Weiskopf, Tom Watson, Mark Calcavecchia, Justin Leonard and Todd Hamilton in winning the Open at the Ayrshire venue.
That would make him the fourth oldest major champion ever and the oldest at the Open since Old Tom Morris, who was just two months older than Mickelson when winning in 1867.
Rory McIlroy is the best placed of the Irish contingent to mount a challenge after he finished on two under par, while two-time winner Padraig Harrington was a shot further back. There were rounds to forget for Paul Dunne and Shane Lowry who ended up on six and seven over respectively, while Darren Clarke went around in level par. Elsewhere Graeme McDowell shot a four-over-par 75.