Mickelson Shows Off Top Form With 63

From the Associated Press

Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his bid for a third BellSouth Classic title -- and made it clear that he's in top form for the Masters.

Mickelson tied the tournament's course record Thursday, shooting a nine-under-par 63 to take a one-shot lead over Gavin Coles in the first round of the final tuneup for Augusta.

Mickelson, the 2004 Masters champion, birdied six of the first seven holes.

"It was a fun day, a fun start," Mickelson said. "I birdied the first couple of holes and was off and running.

"I looked up and I was six-under through seven. That was a good feeling."

Coles' career-best 64 set the morning pace.

Charles Warren is third at seven-under 65, followed by Joe Durant, Ian Poulter and Scott Parel at 66.

Parel made a 21-foot birdie putt on No. 18.

Mickelson, the defending champion, missed a six-foot birdie putt on the 18th green that would have set a tournament record at the TPC at Sugarloaf in this Atlanta suburb.

There have been three other 63s since the tournament moved to Sugarloaf in 1997: Tiger Woods, 1998; Duffy Waldorf, 1999; and Ben Crane, 2003.

In 1979, when the tournament was held at the Atlanta Country Club, Andy Bean shot a record 61.

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