Mickelson benefits from patient approach
Phil Mickelson visited unwelcome parts of Whistling Straits with some wayward driving at the US PGA Championship on Friday but managed to stay within striking distance for a fifth major title.
The American left-hander, despite missing seven of 14 fairways and hitting a spectator with an errant tee shot at the 15th, ground out a three-under-par 69 in the weather-delayed second round.
Mickelson recorded six birdies, one bogey and a double-bogey at the 18th, his ninth hole, to lie six strokes off the clubhouse lead at two-under 142.
“I grinded pretty hard ... and you just never know what can happen in a major,” the world number two told reporters after covering his last nine holes in three-under 33.
“I shot 10 under on the weekend at Augusta and was able to leapfrog everybody and was quite a ways back at some points.”
Mickelson closed with successive 67s at Augusta National in April to win his third Green Jacket at the US Masters, and his fourth major title.
“I just want to be in a position where if I play like I know I can, I can make up some ground,” Mickelson said of the task facing him after 36 holes at Whistling Straits. “And I feel like I’m within striking distance.”
Dubbed “Phil the Thrill” early in his career because of his swashbuckling approach to the game, the Californian was delighted with his patient strategy in challenging, windy conditions on Friday.
“This is a penalising golf course to not play from the fairway and I certainly explored a lot of areas here,” said Mickelson who handed a signed glove to a spectator who was struck by a tee shot that sailed right at the par-four 15th.
“First 27 holes for me to keep it around par was a feat and I drove it better the last nine holes. It required a lot of patience to not force the issue today.”
Mickelson, who has the opportunity to replace Tiger Woods as world number one for a ninth successive tournament, said his wayward driving had forced him to play more patiently.
“I had to be patient and try to just keep myself in position to where I could maybe make up the ground over the next two rounds,” added the American who clinched the 2005 PGA Championship at Baltusrol.
Mickelson needs to finish no worse than joint fourth at Whistling Straits to have the chance to top the rankings for the first time.