MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Phil Mickelson wasted no time firing up fans with birdies on the opening two holes at TPC Southwind. Then came a sliced tee shot into the water and a nearly four-putt green. He birdied two of the last three holes.

A typical round for one of golf's most unpredictable stars.

Returning to work for the first time since disclosing last month that his wife, Amy, has breast cancer, Mickelson got off to a solid start in the St. Jude Classic yesterday with a 2-under 68 that left him 4 shots behind Brian Gay.

Mickelson wore a pink ribbon stitched into the side of his white cap and at times looked fatigued.

Jose Maria Olazabal, a two-time Masters champion recently elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame, was the day's surprise. Still coping with arthritis pain, the Spaniard shot a 66 to finish in a group that included Rich Beem and Graeme McDowell.

John Daly, playing on the PGA Tour for the first time since a six-month suspension for off-course activities that brought unwanted publicity, shot a 72.

Gay has narrowly missed out on qualifying for the first two majors, although he has one chance left. Having won at Hilton Head last month, he would get into the U.S. Open with a victory this week.