Nitties, Glover grab lead as Mickelson struggles at FBR OpenJan 30, 2009 - 2:18 AM SCOTTSDALE, Arizona (Ticker) -- Australian James Nitties and Lucas Glover posted rounds of 6-under-par 65 to take the lead during Thursday's first round of the $6 million FBR Open, which was suspended due to darkness.
Nine players have yet to conclude their rounds and will finish at 8 a.m. Friday before second round play begins as scheduled.
Looking nothing like the player who missed the cut in the first two events this year, Nitties enjoyed a big start at the TPC Scottsdale, reeling off four straight birdies from Nos. 3-6. After his lone bogey, he immediately responded with another birdie at the par-4 eighth hole.
"I hit it pretty solidly, obviously. I putted well today, fixed a little bit of my putting issues last week," Nitties said. "I didn't really get into too much trouble all day, and if I did, I'd sort of make the smart decision, and it sort of worked together well."
Nitties was consistent on the back side before birdies at Nos. 17 and 18 vaulted him into the clubhouse lead.
Glover, who started his round on the back nine and recorded pars on his first three holes, registered six birdies and a bogey. After birdying Nos. 13, 15 and 16, he suffered the lone bogey of his round on the par-4 17th hole.
"Any course like this, you hit it in the wrong place, you've got to be careful," Glover said. "But they grew it (the rough) up on us this year, and it looks like some of the fairways are pinched in a little bit. Either that, or it's just higher in places."
The American concluded his first nine holes with a birdie on No. 18, then birdied Nos. 1, 4 and 6 in a bogey-free front nine.
Phil Mickelson's 2009 debut got off to a rocky start in a tournament that has earned him $2,455,813 in 17 previous appearances.
A local favorite after playing his college golf at Arizona State and capturing the title here in 1996 and 2005, Mickelson posted a 5-over 76 to place him in a tie for 121st.
"Well, it really wasn't what I was hoping for," Mickelson said. "I guess that's a good way to say it.
"I had three penalty shots. That hurts. But it didn't feel that far off. I felt like I hit the ball pretty solid. I was hitting it hard. I had some good speed. I just didn't have it obviously going very straight."
After opening his round with a double bogey, he rebounded with a birdie on the par-5 third hole. Things got ugly from there for Mickelson, who recorded a bogey on No. 6 before another double on the par-4 ninth and back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 10 and 11.
"I feel like I can come back out tomorrow and shoot a good round and play the weekend," Mickelson said. "I probably have to shoot about 5-under, but that doesn't feel out of the question, even though the first-round scores might look disgusting. But it doesn't feel far off."
David Berganio, Jr. and Charley Hoffman carded rounds of 66 to put themselves within one shot of the lead heading into the second round.
Berganio, who started his round on the back nine, enjoyed a hot start as he birdied four of his first five holes, including three straight from Nos. 12-14. He added his final birdie of the day after making the turn at the par-4 first hole.
Hoffman, coming off a tie for 19th last week at the Bob Hope Classic, birdied two of his first three holes on the front side. He also had success on the back side, birdying Nos. 10, 13 and 15.
"If you keep the ball in the fairway here you can attack some of the pins and make some birdies," Hoffman said. "Luckily enough I was able to keep the ball in the fairway the majority of the time, which obviously gave me some birdie chances, and took advantage of the par-5s and birdied all of them."
J.B. Holmes, attempting to win this event for a third straight year, started his round on fire on the back nine. Following a birdie on No. 11 and a bogey on the par-3 12th hole, Holmes birdied five straight holes to climb the leaderboard.
However Holmes, who defeated Mickelson in a playoff last year, lost all momentum on the front nine, registering four bogeys without a birdie to card a 1-under 70.
First prize is $1.08 million.
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