ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Phil Mickelson didn't have much success with his new driver in the first round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, failing to make a single birdie in a 1-over 73 to sit six shots behind the leaders.
Mickelson made 17 straight pars in his first round of the year before a bogey on his last hole, joining a number of big names who struggled on the opening day.
"I can't recall the last time I had a round without a birdie," Mickelson said. "But didn't make a bogey there until the last."
Matthew Baldwin of England was tied for the lead with Romain Wattel of France and Rafa Cabrera-Bello after a 67. Seven players, including European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley, were one shot behind.
Mickelson's playing partner Rory McIlroy carded a 70 while Henrik Stenson had four bogeys in a 74 and Sergio Garcia complained about the rough being "dangerous" after a 76.
Mickelson said before the event that he was driving better than ever after getting a new driver from Callaway Golf that he said could turn one of his weaknesses into a strength.
However, he only hit five of 14 fairways on the Peter Harradine-designed course.
"This first round, I was a little tentative, played a little cautious, didn't trust my swing too much," Mickelson said. "I haven't been out in competition for a while but then it was good to get my feet wet."
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