June 5 2011
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
DUBLIN, Ohio -- Phil Mickelson was one hole away from a really, really good round on Saturday.
As it was, the 67 was Mickelson's low round of the week. He made five birdies and an eagle before closing things out with a frustrating double bogey at the 18th hole.
Mickelson, who was playing with Kevin Streelman, couldn't be too disappointed, though. He hit 11 of 14 fairways and all but six greens on Sunday while using 24 putts.
"I played well today," Mickelson acknowledged. "I had fun. Kevin and I both had a good time today and we both were making some birdies, so it was a fun day."
The two fed off each other -- Streelman shot 66 to move into a tie for eighth while Lefty finished another stroke behind. Mickelson's birdie putts came from 16, 4, 5, 9 and 39 feet.
The eagle putt at the 15th hole was another long one of 36 feet. When he finished Sunday afternoon Mickelson was ranked first in approach shot distance to the pin, as well as distance of putts made.
"I hit the ball pretty well tee to green throughout the week," Mickelson said. "I didn't putt the best the first few days, but putted pretty good today."
Mickelson, who was heading up to Congressional for several practice rounds prior to the U.S. Open, wants to build on the momentum he gained Sunday with the flat stick.
He was solid this week from inside 10 feet -- making 65 of 72 putts. But he was 3 of 14 from 10-15 feet, 2 of 12 from 15-20, 0 for 2 from 20-25 and 2 of 12 over 25.
"It's really getting a good feel on the greens," he explained. "It's getting good speed. The first three days my speed was off, so if I had a good read, I either hit it through the break or I'd come up short, miss it low, because I didn't use enough pace.
“My speed from outside of 6 feet, 6 to 35 feet, the putts you've really got to make to get a good round going, was off a little bit the first few days. Today even the ones that missed were rolling about a foot and a half by, which is about the speed I'm looking for."
A U.S. Open title is also on Mickelson’s wish list. He has four majors on his resume –- three Masters and one PGA –- and five close-but-no-cigar finishes at the U.S. Open.
“I've come close five times now … which is actually a good sign in the sense that it's a course or a setup that probably nobody thought I would do well on throughout my career and yet I've played some of my better golf in the U.S. Open,” Mickelson said.
“And I just need a few breaks here and there or maybe a few less mistakes here or there to be able to come out on top.”