Arizona State-alum Phil Mickelson is clearly the crowd favorite at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, and his opening round of 3-under-par 68 has him within range of the first-round leaders.
"It's really cool the way people have treated me," Mickelson said. "I met my wife here and we had our first two children here. It's a very special place in our hearts."
But Mickelson will have to play better if he wants to be in contention this weekend. Thursday he hit only nine of 18 greens, but made up for it with just 24 putts. At one point in his round he had six straight one-putt greens.
"You miss enough greens you're going to have to do that to keep the round going," Mickelson said. "I was able to use the short game to get up-and-down."
It is Super Bowl week, and with that, many players at the Waste Management Phoenix Open get asked who their choice is to win Sunday's big game.
Not a hard question. The two choices are the Giants or the Patriots. But the PGA Tour is full of international players, and believe it or not, they don't all follow the NFL.
Australian Jarrod Lyle was asked who he thought would win the game. His answer:
"Can you tell me who's playing?"
When told his choices were the Patriots and Giants, Lyle chose the Patriots.
"It's just a guess," Lyle said. "I've got no idea. I've never followed it so it's purely a guess."
The Rickie Fowler followers didn't match what Fowler was wearing on Thursday. Oh, they were wearing the Puma gear, but the half-dozen or so men and women were in powder-blue-and-white attire.
Not even close to the lime green-Kelly green ensemble Fowler himself wore for the first round. Playing partner Dustin Johnson got into the extreme fashion act with purple pants. That left poor old stodgy Phil Mickelson as the old, conservative guy in the group. His outfit was simply black and red. Although he doesn't mind Fowler's wardrobe.
"I like the way he dresses," Mickelson said. "It's not for me, but I think he dresses really sharp and a lot of people really enjoy it."
Stewart Cink hasn't had many rounds like he did on Thursday. The former British Open champion finished his opening round at 12-over-par 83. His score was the worst of the day, by six shots.
Cink had three double-bogeys, seven bogeys and one birdie. His opening drive missed the first fairway and he was forced to take an unplayable lie with a one shot penalty. The end result on the relatively short par 4 was a score of six. And then it got worse.
The tournament will host its second annual "Green Out" for Saturday's third round. The host Thunderbirds are encouraging all fans to wear something green to support the green/eco-sensitive efforts of the tournament.
Hopefully Fowler has more green in his closet for Saturday.