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May 5 2012

5:50 PM

Mickelson gains ground with 68

Interview: Phil Mickelson

Following his third-round 68, Phil Mickelson talks about his play with John Maginnes from SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio.

By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Depending on what the weather does, Phil Mickelson feels that the leaders could be in for an interesting afternoon at Quail Hollow.

Mickelson has just finished a round of 68 that included four straight birdies on the back nine but ended with a a bogey at the 18th. He made the cut on the number, but now stands 5 under for the tournament after taking advantage of receptive greens with pins on what Mickelson called the "edgy" side.

"Had we just made a few more, we might have gotten right back in it," Mickelson said.

If the wind picks up, the leaders will be challenged like Mickelson was on Friday afternoon when he gutted out pars on the last two holes to make the cut. If the cloudy skies shepherd in rain, though, then softened greens will be more generous.

"Where the holes are cut, you're looking at about a three degree pitch on most of the holes, which three degrees with a 13 on the Stimpmeter is extremely pitched," Mickelson said. "Good chip shots that normally would be 3, 4, 5 feet, they're going to be 8 to 12 feet. A lot of them won't stop until they get to the edge of the green, so you're going to see a lot of good shots that won't stay around the hole because of the degree of pitch where the hole location is.  You'll see a lot of putts that look like they have a chance to just die in, they're going to roll 3, 4, 5 feet by."

As Mickelson spoke, he began to feel some misty rain. The skies are overcast and there is slight chance of rain as the afternoon progresses.

"If rain comes, all bets are off," he said. "It's going to be a birdie fest if the greens are soft.  It's all going to come down to the softness and firmness of the greens."

Mickelson, who teed off at 8:04 a.m. with Lee Westwood, said a 28-footer at the 13th hole opened the floodgates. He got up-and-down from the greenside bunker at the 310-yard, par-4 14th, then two-putted from 48 feet at the 15th and made a 19-footer at No. 16.

"That (28-footer) the first putt of that distance that went in for me, and I hit a lot of good ones that had chances and that one just tracked in," Mickelson said. "Then I would follow that hole up with two birdie holes that I was able to do what you're supposed to do and made a good one on 16.

“So even though it was a nice round of four birdies, it didn't seem like it was that big a deal because two of them you're supposed to birdie, and I just made a couple of good putts."

A couple of more would have been even better, though.

"We got very lucky to have kind of soft conditions and opportunities to go low," Mickelson said. "Had I made two, three more birdies you just never know because I think it's going to be tough for the leaders to get away unless, again, the rain coming in or it stays calm.

“But if the wind picks up or the greens get firm like it did the last two days, it's going to be a tough course."

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