La Quinta, Calif. — Phil Mickelson got most of the attention in his return to competition after a four-month break. Blake Adams got a lot more out of his comeback round.
Mickelson shot a 1-under 71 on Thursday in the Humana Challenge in his first event since the Ryder Cup, leaving him eight strokes behind leader Michael Putnam.
"Even though this score is the worst I've had in a long time, in months, I'm excited about my game and getting back out tomorrow," Mickelson said. "I can't wait to get started again, because I just feel like I played a little tight today, kind of steered it a little bit."
Adams had a 64 on PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Private Course in his return from hip replacement surgery. He last played a PGA Tour event in March and had surgery in July.
"Very, very blessed to be back out here," Adams said. "It's been a long road to get back. You never know what you're going to get when you have total hip replacement."
The 39-year-old Adams had six straight birdies from No. 14 to No. 1, added three in a row on Nos. 5-7 and closed with a bogey. Playing on a major medical extension, he has 16 events to earn $497,044 to keep his tour card.
"If the putts fall, great, if they don't, so be it," Adams said. "I had a great day today. I'm going to go out there tomorrow and do my best and if I shoot 64 again, great. If I shoot 74, so be it."
Mickelson opened at tree-lined La Quinta Country Club. He made a 12-foot birdie putt on the par-3 third, holed out for birdie from a greenside bunker on the par-4 fourth and made a 15-foot birdie putt on the par-5 sixth. After dropping shots on Nos. 12, 14 and 16, Lefty hit a wedge to 2 feet for birdie on the par-4 17th.
"It was the first round in four months and I'll loosen up," Mickelson said. "Hopefully, the way I'm playing will show in the score. But today, it just didn't."
The 44-year-old Mickelson, the 2002 and 2004 champion, is winless in 27 PGA Tour starts since the 2013 British Open. He has lost weight and gained strength working with trainer Sean Cochran during the long break from competition.
"My body hasn't felt this good in years," Mickelson said.
Putnam made nine birdies in an 11-hole stretch in his 63. He birdied Nos. 7, 9 and 10 on the Nicklaus course and ran off six in a row on Nos. 12-17.
"The course is in perfect shape," Putnam said. "Greens are good. … I made a lot of birdies at the end. Hit a lot of close shots, a lot of 5-, 10-foot putts. I made them all, so I got to be happy about that."
Mark Wilson, John Peterson, Francesco Molinari and Scott Pinckney matched Adams at 64. Wilson and Peterson played the Nicklaus course, Molinari opened on the Arnold Palmer Private Course and Pinckney was at La Quinta.
The 40-year-old Wilson won the 2012 tournament for the last of his five PGA Tour titles.
"I came in feeling OK, nothing great about the game, but it was ideal today," Wilson said. "I made some saves when I needed it and capitalized on my good shots."
Jackson's Brian Stuard shot a 5-under 67, Grosse Ile's Justin Hicks shot a 4-under 68, and Lake Orion's Tom Gillis shot a 2-over 74.
Bernd Wieseberger birdied his last hole to join South Africans Branden Grace and George Coetzee on top of the leaderboard after the second round.
Wieseberger's 6-under-par 66 included four consecutive birdies from his fourth hole, the par-3 No. 13. The Austrian totaled 9-under 135 to share a one-shot lead with Grace (68) and Coetzee (67).
Scotland's Marc Warren (65), South Korea's Byeong-hun An (69), and Argentina's Emiliano Grillo (69) were one stroke behind at 8 under. Warren shared the day's best score with England 's Tommy Fleetwood and Sweden's Johan Carlsson.
Defending champion Sergio Garcia was three shots behind the leaders at 6 under after consecutive 69s.
Charl Schwartzel shot a 6-over 78 to finish at 3 over, missing the cut by four strokes.