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March 30 2012

11:40 PM

Phil's right there

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Mickelson had a successful Friday at Redstone GC.
By Melanie Hauser, PGATOUR.COM HUMBLE, Texas – You wouldn’t call it the best of finishes. But it wasn’t the worst, either. Defending champ Phil Mickelson may have given one away at the ninth hole, but he’s still in great shape going into the weekend. Mickelson’s oops – he was long, then chipped up and wound up missing a 3 footer for par – left him at 9-under going into the weekend and just two shots behind clubhouse leaders Brian Davis and Louis Oosthuizen. “I played really well,’’ Mickelson said. “I didn't quite take advantage of the opportunities that I did in the morning round where I hit a lot of good shots close, 10, 12, 15 footers I made in the first round, I caught lips in the second. “There was a lot of good things to build on heading into the weekend. I feel really good about where my game is at. I'll be able to shoot a little bit lower score than I did this afternoon.’’ For those of you counting, Mickelson is two shots closer than he was at this point last year and five shots ahead of his 36-hole total in 2011. As for the first round? After he completed his final 15 holes Friday morning, he was tied for the lead. Last year? Seven back.  “I’ve played well here on this golf course,’’ he said. “I'm in much better shape now than I was last year at this time heading into the weekend.  It's going to take a couple good rounds.  My game feels sharp.  I'm looking forward to get back out there.’’ He’ll get a night to rest up after a 33-hole marathon – with an hour for lunch – and be back at it Saturday afternoon. And in case you’re wondering, he tinkered with his club lineup a little this week. The man who can go with two drivers or three wedges or . . . whatever, pulled his 3-iron this week in favor of a 5-wood. “I'm always looking for some type of advantage if I can find it,’’ he said. “I think that certain clubs perform or needed more on certain courses, and sometimes I may have a 5-wood, sometimes I may switch it out for a 3-iron. Certainly the British Open, I'm going the want to keep the ball down and go to a 3-iron. Here the ground is soft, and I put in a 5-wood. Those type of subtle changes can allow a player to maybe salvage a stroke here or there throughout the week.’’ Like last year, Mickelson spent the early part of the week in Augusta, getting in a little practice for next week’s Masters. It seems to be working. He’s 25-under in his last four rounds at Redstone. “The greens are beautiful, so you get hot with the putter, you can make a lot of birdies,’’ he said. Today with the golf course being soft, there was a lot of birdies there because you could get off of the pins that were tough and have confidence that the ball will stop as opposed to bouncing off into trouble.’’ And even though his putter cooled off in the second round, he’s confident it’ll heat back up. “I hit putts that weren't the right read or too firm or too easy on the speed, but they all had good chances,’’ he said. “They just didn't quite go in.’’
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