It’s a week to the U.S. Open and the St. Jude Classic needed some big names to step up on Thursday.
Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson obliged at the TPC Southwind.
Koepka and Mickelson both started strong with four-under par 66s and found themselves just a shot behind first round leader Seamus Power from Ireland.
Koepka’s game has been getting better and better since his return from a left wrist injury and his timing couldn’t be better as he looks to defend his U.S. Open title next week at Shinnecock Hills.
Mickelson’s good play continues as he comes off a top 10 finish at last week’s Memorial championship.
It was a crowd at four-under par, in all 11 players were a shot behind Power by day’s end, including Steve Stricker, champion of the over-50 set.
“I feel my game’s good enough and I feel I still belong out here,” Stricker said after his day’s work.
Rookie Joaquin Niemann, who tied for eighth last week at Muirfield Village, has three top eight finishes in five events as a pro and is looking for another this week as he opened with a one-under par 69. Niemann has earned temporary special status on tour thanks to his FedEx Cup points and more than $700,000 in earnings in his five events.