July 18, 2014
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
- Phil Mickelson shot a 2-under 70 in Friday's second round at Royal Liverpool. (Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
HOYLAKE, England -- When he finished his round of 74 on Thursday at Royal Liverpool, Phil Mickelson harkened back to the 2004 Open Championship at Royal Troon.
He followed a 73 that year with a 66 to put himself squarely back in the tournament, and that's exactly what Mickelson said he needed to do on Friday in his title defense.Turns out, the 70 he signed for in the second round wasn't quite as low as Mickelson had hoped. But he's no longer in danger of missing the cut, and if he can master the expected weather on Saturday, the big lefthander feels he just might have a chance.
"If the wind stays up, absolutely I am," Mickelson said when asked whether he felt like he was still in the tournament. "But I have a feeling the conditions are supposed to get softer this afternoon and if that's the case, I'll be quite a ways back.
"But (Saturday) when the conditions come in, there's going to be a lot of scores that go 5, 6, 7-over par. If I can shoot something under par, I'll be right in it for Sunday."
Mickelson got off to a solid start in the second round, answering a bogey at the third with a birdie at No. 4 and an eagle at the fifth. He gave a shot back at No. 8 and made a miraculous par despite a lost ball on the par-5 10th before capping his "crazy" round, in his words, with a birdie at the 18th.
"There was like a mental barrier to get it back to even par," Mickelson said. "So that putt on 18 was big."
Mickelson was particularly pleased with his performance on the back nine, starting with that clutch play on the 10th hole where he hit a 6-iron to 6 feet for the improbable par. He said he made a slight putting adjustment, trying to extend more to the target and it worked wonders.
"I felt like I was kind of quitting on it," Mickelson said. "And I seemed to get them on line and had a couple of really good rolls. I thought I made the putt on 17. I thought I made the putt on 11. And I had some good chances on the other ones."
Another key for Mickelson this week has been patience. Winning the Claret Jug has a role in that, too.
He says he's learned to accept the fact that he might not have gotten the good end of the draw. At the same time, he has figured out that he can't force birdies just because players in the other wave are going low.
"I have to play as well as I can with the conditions that I'm in," Mickelson said philosophically. "If even par is the best I can do, that's all I can do. Now, I might be seven or eight back, but I can't control that. If I try to force it, I'm missing the cut."
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