By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
GULLANE, Scotland -- One of the putting drills Phil Mickelson made famous has him putting 10 balls in a circle around the cup, each about 3 feet away.
He works his way around and around and around, trying to make 100 in succession. The way Mickelson talked after shoot a 72 in the third round of The Open Championship, though, he'd better back the distance up a tad prior to Sunday's decisive finale at Muirfield.
"I feel like the only hole that is kind of a -- I don't want to say gimme birdie, but a hole you should birdie -- is No. 9 and everything else you've got to make a 20, 30-footer," Mickelson said. " You're very lucky if you hit it close. ...
"You just need an element of luck. You're going to have to make 20, 30-footers. I didn't make really any today and subsequently only had three birdies. And I think the pars are very manageable. I don't think there's any hole that if you hit good shots, you should be able to par every hole out here."
Mickelson, who won his first event in the UK last Sunday at the Scottish Open, needs more than pars, though, if he is to win the third leg of his career Grand Slam. The four-time major champion will start the final round at 2 over, which puts him five strokes off Lee Westwood's lead.
Mickelson felt he struck the ball better than he had in Friday's 73 after a practice session with his long-time coach Butch Harmon. He certainly didn't make as many putts as he would have liked, but there weren't any three-putts, either.
"I thought today was excellent," Mickelson said. "It was set up very well. We saw a few scores under par. We saw quite a few over par. If you manage your game well, I thought you could make pars, and an occasional birdie here and there. ...
"Anything around par today was a good round. I think that I'll have to play a good round tomorrow, but I think it's right there."