June 11, 2009

Gay leads in Memphis, Mickelson four back

Brian Gay took the lead at the St. Jude Classic Thursday and Phil Mickelson returned to the PGA Tour with a solid round that put him four strokes off the pace.

Gay, seeking his second victory on the PGA Tour this year, shot a 6-under 64 over the TPC-Southwind course, one shot in front of Jimmy Walker.

Walker has appeared in a dozen tournaments this season, his second on the tour, and has finished no better than 23rd. Rich Beem, Mathias Gronberg, Chris Stroud, European Ryder Cup team member Graeme McDowell and two-time Masters champ Jose Maria Olazabal were tied for third at 66.

David Toms, Woody Austin and 53-year-old Loren Roberts were part of a large group at 67 and Mickelson was among those at 68.

Mickelson is playing for the first time since he left the tour after his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. He also plans to compete next week at the U.S. Open.

I thought the pairing I had was perfect to make the day lighthearted, said Mickelson, who played in the company of Padraig Harrington and Cameron Beckman. We talked about a number of things that were not related to what's been going on.

Also making his return to the tour was John Daly, who shot a 2-over 72. Daly, who has been serving a six-month suspension, has shed 50 pounds this year. He will likely need to turn in a sub-par score on Friday to make the 36-hole cut.