Mickelson, a four-time victor of the event played on three tracks over four days, got off to a shaggy start with a bogey on the par-5 first hole at Spyglass Hill, a course he brought to its knees with a first-round 62 back in 2005.
The world number eight sits 11 shots off the lead which is held by world number one Dustin Johnson and young American Beau Hossler at 12 under. He followed his lone bogey of the day with back-to-back birdies at 16 and 17, and picked up three more birdies coming in.
Johnson said he prefers tough conditions on Sunday, and he might get them as the wind is supposed to pick up on Sunday afternoon to complement some nippy 55-degree temperatures.
Jack Nicklaus once said if he only had one more round to play, he would pick Pebble Beach. "So it was definitely a good day".
Day One of the AT&T Pebble Beach ProAm got started under blue skies bringing out stars to have fun in the sun.
"We have played in the European equivalent of Dunhill Links a few times before and we have done well at it, but this is a little bit different", he noted. "I would say that I'm driving it well, but I'm probably not quite as good as I was when on those three wins, but everything else feels like it's really good". He hit into the ocean with an iron on the par-5 sixth hole leading to bogey.
"I was expecting to play like this the first couple of weeks, so the first couple of weeks was a little disappointing", said Mickelson, who is playing for the fourth consecutive week.
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This fast start couldn't come at a better time for McIlroy, the 29 year-old future Hall of Famer.
"And last year was the first year where I lowered my expectations on the greens and just accepted hitting putts at the right speed and putting them around the right line, and if they fell, they fell".
Now more young studs are coming through, with Justin Thomas and Jon Rahm both asserting their dominance over the past year.
For Gerry McIlory, who worked three jobs at times as his son aspired to golf greatness, there is not much better. The Great One cited a sore back when he withdrew Saturday from the pro-am. It's easy to get picky with certain details, but I'm compensated really well by making a lot of par putts. "He has the oily gait of a jungle cat", wrote Jim Moriarty about Dustin Johnson for Golf Digest four years ago.
"It's hard to assess it, it's hard to explain it in words", Rahm said of his rapid ascent that includes four wins worldwide.
"Maybe my expectations weren't very high and I played well because of that". He added two more bogeys on the way to a three-over 74.