Phil Mickelson got off to a solid start at the US Open at Pinehurst No. 2 on Thursday after opening with an even par round of 70, putting him squarely in the thick of things.
Mickelson was just two shots off the lead after the morning wave of players, but said that his putter is still causing him a little concern. He switched to the claw grip during the final round at Memphis last week, and used it during Thursday's first round.
"I had a chance to get 3, 4, 5-under today had I made some makeable opportunities," Mickelson said. "But I didn't throw anything away on some of the short ones. The driver feels really good. I think that's the club that is going to help me play well this week. And the one club that's hurting me is the putter. So I've got to get that turned around the next couple of days."
Mickelson started on the No. 10 and made birdies at two of his first five holes. He was a 2-under par before late bogeys on No. 6 and No. 8 (his 15th and 17th holes).
He is seeking his first win in the US Open, an event he has finished second in a record six times. His first runner-up finish came 15 years ago at Pinehurst when he lost to Payne Stewart after Stewart made a clutch 15-foot par putt at the final hole.
Mickelson isn't convinced that he will switch to the claw permanently, but he does feel comfortable with using it for the time being.
"The claw helps with my alignment, it keeps my lines straight and it takes some pressure and hit out of it with the bottom hand. So when that starts to go away on my natural grip, I'll go back to that."
Mickelson also got some good news outside the ropes. He has been mentioned in an investigation into possible insider trading, but a story in Thursday's New York Times reported that he would be cleared of any wrongdoing.
Asked if he was aware of the latest report after completing his first round, Mickelson continued to say what he has said all along--he did nothing wrong.
"But I'll continue to say, I haven't done anything wrong," he said. "And if there's -- I'm willing to help out, love to help out any way on the investigation. So like I said before, with an investigation going on, I'm not going to comment any further on it. But I'll continue to say that I've done absolutely nothing wrong."
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