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February 1 2013

8:46 PM

Mickelson expects 'shootout'

By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. --  For the second straight day, Phil Mickelson's round didn't end the way he had hoped.

On Thursday, he had chances to shoot a 59 -- or even better, a 58 -- but he was unable convert the birdie putts on the last two holes. Friday's frustration came in the form of a double bogey at the 18th hole where Mickelson drive hit the bank and trickled into the water, costing him a chance at the TOUR's 36-hole scoring mark.

Mickelson, though, is the ultimate glass-half-full guy, and when you're leading by four strokes at 17 under it's easier to take away the positives. That's what the four-time major champion did when someone asked about the disappointing finish.

"I think it's very possible that's going to help me because it's got me refocused, that I cannot ease up on a single shot," Mickelson said. "... These guys are going to make a lot of birdies and I've got to get after it and cannot make those kinds of mistakes. 

"Hopefully it'll help me refocus for tomorrow's round and come out and shoot something low."

Don't bet against him, either. Mickelson is a two-time champion at TPC Scottsdale who thrives on the risk-reward challenge the course presents.

He's played in the tournament 23 times previously and is a combined 116 under -- with his best performances coming in 2003 and 2005 when he shot 17 under for the week. His scoring average prior to this week was 69.40, as well.

Mickelson started slowly on Friday, parring his first six holes. He made five birdies over his next seven holes, then thrilled the crowd at the 15th hole with a 358-yard drive and an 8-iron to 4 feet for eagle. Mickelson also drove the green at the 17th hole and two-putted for a final birdie.

"I didn't get off to the fastest start but was patient and ended up making a lot of birdies and eagles there in middle of the round," Mickelson said. "Unfortunately I made a double on the last hole and didn't finish the way I wanted to.

"But I think it's a good example of what can happen on this course. You can make a lot of birdies and eagles, make up a lot of ground, but there's a lot of water and trouble there that if you misstep you can easily make bogeys and double.
 
"It'll be an interesting weekend because I think it's going to be kind of a shootout where a lot of guys will be making runs, and it'll be up to me and the other guys in the last group to get going."

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