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January 31 2013

8:01 PM

Palmer opens with quiet 64

By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Ryan Palmer was the leader in the clubhouse for about 45 minutes on Thursday. Not that anyone knew it, of course. Not with Phil Mickelson stalking what came within one putt of being a magical 59.

"Obviously there are scoreboards everywhere and you see it, but all you can do is shoot a low round today," Palmer said. "You can't worry about a guy leading the golf tournament and going low like that on the first day. It's fitting it's Phil. It will be fun to see how it all pans out."

Particularly after the way Palmer played in the first round.

He was in the first group of the day off the 10th tee and shot 64 -- the same score he posted a year ago when he shared the first-round lead with Jason Dufner. When all was said and done on Thursday, though, Palmer found himself in a five-way tie for second, four shots behind Mickelson.

"It's always nice to play Thursday and get off to a good start," Palmer said. "You can't win on Thursday but you can sure lose it."

Palmer set the tone for the day when he made an 8-footer for birdie at the 10th hole. He then "plodded" his way around the back nine and closed with three birdies in his last four holes to turn in 32. He added three more birdies on the front nine for the 64.

"I drove it great, and I made a few more putts today than I have been the past few weeks," said Palmer, who hit all but one green in regulation. "Great day."

Palmer didn't have many other great days a year ago at TPC Scottsdale, though. He ended up tied for 55th after shooting 72-76-71 in the next three rounds.

Palmer came to Phoenix with positive thoughts, though, after tying for sixth at the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation.

"So hopefully we can make up for what we did last year on the last two rounds," Palmer said. "I think my game is in better shape than it was, so I'm looking forward to playing well."

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