Phil Mickelson set the early pace with an eight-under-par 63 at the Deutsche Bank Championship on Friday in Norton, Mass., then Brian Davis tied him for the first-round lead by equaling that total in the afternoon.
Also marching up the leaderboard in the later groups at TPC Boston were Sergio Garcia and Roberto Castro, who each shot 65 and are in a tie for fourth with Hunter Mahan. Kevin Stadler is in third at 64.
Tiger Woods, who said his back was feeling fine after suffering from spasms last week at the Barclays tournament, shot three-under 68, which had him in the top 20 when the afternoon groups were just taking to the course. By the time the opening round concluded, Woods was tied for 34th with 10 others.
"Missed a few opportunities out there," said Woods, who played in the same group with Mickelson and Adam Scott. "The golf course is really receptive and certainly gettable.
"I didn't hit the ball as well as I'd like to, but I scored all right. I didn't give myself a lot of looks."
Among 16 players tied for seventh at 66 are PGA champion Jason Dufner, four-time major winner Ernie Els, Matt Kuchar, Ian Poulter, Steve Stricker and Lee Westwood, who is playing this week with what he called a ''stiff back.''
Among the big-name players struggling Friday were Scott, the reigning PGA chamipon, and 2012 U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson, each at two over, 2010 U.S. Open winner Graeme McDowell (one over), Luke Donald, Rickie Fowler and Bubba Watson (all even) as well as Jim Furyk, defending tournament champion and two-time major winner Rory McIlroy and reigning U.S. Open champion Justin Rose (one under).
Mickelson tied his best nine-hole effort on the PGA Tour with a 28. After he bogeyed No. 1, his 10th hole of the round, he had an eagle at No. 2 before reeling off five consecutive pars. He had a bogey-birdie finish at Nos. 8 and 9.
“It was a good start,” Mickelson said. “I got off to a great front nine and somewhat stalled on the back. But after shooting seven under for the first nine, it was going to be a good round as long as I didn't mess it up.”
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