By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- For the second straight day, Phil Mickelson had trouble coaxing what could have been a good score into the house.
On Friday, he made three birdies on his first nine holes at Spyglass Hill but ended up shooting 71. The previous day on the par-70 Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula Country Club, Mickelson was 3 under through 10 holes but finished with a 69.
As a result, the defending champion will start the third round in a tie for 39th at 2 under, trailing by six strokes, which is the same margin he overcame a year ago on Sunday to win the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am for the fourth time
"I had a good round going here at Spyglass and I turned a 66 into a 71," Mickelson said. "Tomorrow, I've got to finish it off. I've got to finish off the round and see if I can put something in the mid-60s and get in it for Sunday.
"Gosh, it's so much fun having a chance to win here on Sunday."
Mickelson now gets to play his final two rounds at Pebble Beach where he knows he can go low. After all, the last time he teed it up on the storied links -- playing with none other than Tiger Woods -- Mickelson closed with a 64 on the way to the win.
""I've played Pebble Beach well in the past and there are some low scores out there," Mickelson said. "There's no reason why I shouldn't shoot one tomorrow."
Mickelson said those three bogeys in a four-hole stretch were "nothing huge." His driver wasn't obedient as it has been on Friday -- he only hit one fairway on the front nine and just six for the day -- but the putter was working at its best of the week.
"I hit them solid and I hit them on my line and they went over the lip and didn't go in," Mickelson, who used 29, said. "I didn't feel bad. I wasn't limping them up there. I was aggressive. They all had chances. They all had good pace and they all were online but didn't quite get them in."
Mickelson, who shot 28 under to win last week's Waste Management Phoenix Open, should get the best of the conditions at Pebble Beach on Saturday with his 11:11 a.m. ET tee time (8:11 a.m. PT). The weather will again be cool but blue skies and calm conditions are expected and could play right into his hands.
"If I play a good round tomorrow, and I feel like I'm not far off, I will hopefully put myself in position where a good round on Sunday can get the job done," Mickelson said.