Phil Mickelson hasn’t given up on successfully defending the Open Championship, after a two-under round of 70 got him back to level for the tournament at Royal Liverpool.
The five-time major champion insists he can still force his way into the reckoning but admits it will be a tall order and will most likely require a superb Saturday round.
Asked after his round if he felt like he was still in the tournament, the left-hander replied: “If the wind stays up, absolutely I am. I have a feeling that conditions are supposed to get softer this afternoon and, if that’s the case, I’ll be quite a ways back.
“But tomorrow, when the conditions come in, there’s going to be lot of scores that go five, six, seven-over-par. I can shoot something under-par, I’ll be right in it for Sunday.”
The winner of last year’s championship at Muirfield, Mickelson admits that the validation of being an Open champion has made him more relaxed about playing the season’s third major.
"Seven or eight-under-par is probably going to be leading." - Phil Mickelson
“It takes the pressure off,” said the 44-year-old, who is looking to become the first player to successfully defend the Claret Jug since Padraig Harrington in 2008. “You don’t feel the pressure of trying to force a win.
“I’m also more accepting of the face that I’m on the poor end of the tee times. You accept that as part of the tournament.”
Mickelson added that consciously forcing himself not to try and force things has been to his advantage, too.
“Seven or eight-under-par is probably going to be leading and so I have to force birdies,” he said. “But the conditions I had didn’t allow for it. I have to just play as well as I can with the conditions that I’m in. 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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