I’m going to sound old here, but there was a time that La Quinta Country Club was where Bob Hope Desert Classic scores went to die. It was the hardest of the Hope rota courses and the ones players had to survive.
So I hiccuped when reading Ryan Lavner’s GolfChannel.com account of Phil Mickelson’s opening round, 12-under-par 60 at La Quinta CC in the 2019 Desert Classic.
Mickelson again played down his chances in his 2019 debut, but it clicked so well at La Quinta Country Club – the easiest of the three courses in the rotation at the Desert Classic – that he gave himself a chance to break 60 for the first time in his Tour career. He went out in 30. Then he birdied Nos. 10, 11, 13 and 14. Then came the birdie on 16, and all of a sudden, he realized that he needed to birdie each of the last two holes to finally shoot golf’s magic number. On 17, he tried to hook a sand wedge into a tight pin and left himself 18 feet. He missed low, but still finished with a flourish: With a chance to card the third 60 in his career, he spun a wedge to 10 feet and buried the putt.
I pulled out George Peper’s 1986 book, Golf Courses Of The PGA Tour to feel really old just to make sure my memory of La Quinta as the one non-pushover course. Peper writes:
At 6911 yards, La Quinta is the longest of the five Hope courses, and with lakes bordering seven of its fairways this tropical layout can be as difficult as it is beautiful.
The other rota courses: Indian Wells CC, Bermuda Dunes, Tamarisk and El Dorado. I swear doesn’t seem like that long ago!
Mickelson’s first round highlights:
This week on Golf Central, we discussed Mickelson’s chances of winning in his 50s (he’s 48) and his chances of being the oldest winner in PGA Tour history: