Golf

Open Championship: Phil Mickelson still fighting after 70

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Mickelson is still in contention (©GettyImages)
Mickelson is still in contention (©GettyImages).

You could be forgiven for ruling players out of contention for the Open Championship that are going into the weekend ten shots behind the leader.

That is the scenario that reigning champion Phil Mickelson could be facing but ruling him out of defending his crown would be foolish.

Reigning champion

His victory at Muirfield last year has made it easier for him for accept the luck that is involved in links golf and has had to play his opening two rounds in tricky conditions at Royal Liverpool.

He knows the contrasting conditions involved in links golf and will not be found complaining about his difficult tee times.

"I'm more accepting of the fact that I'm on the poor end of the tee times. I've also been on the good end of the tee times and you accept that as part of the tournament," Mickelson said.

Impressive 70

Mickelson managed a two-under par during his second round to make amends for his 74 on Thursday and will be well behind the leaders when he tees off on Saturday.

But with tricky conditions expected early on Saturday, Mickelson has the experience to use these to his advantage.

"If the wind stays up, absolutely I am (still in the tournament), but I have a feeling that the conditions are supposed to get softer this afternoon," Mickelson said.

"And if that's the case I'll be quite a ways back. But tomorrow when the conditions come in (rain is forecast), there's going to be a lot of scores that go five, six, seven over par. If I can shoot something under par, I'll be right in it for Sunday."

Grand Slam chaser

Last year represented Mickelson's 20th appearance at the Open Championship and his triumph meant that he only needs to win the US Open to complete a career grand slam.

Mickelson's victory last year means that there will be less pressure on him to win this tournament as he has already ticked it off the list.

"It takes pressure off. You don't feel the pressure of trying to force a win," the 44-year-old added.

Mickelson played fairly safely today, wary of the challenging conditions. He ensured that he would make the cut knowing that he can make his move during the weekend.

Aggressive approach

You can be sure that Mickelson will not give up retaining the trophy until the final putt is made and he believes that if he can start forcing birdies at the weekend he could catch the leaders.

"The tendency is I see the scores and seven, eight under par is probably going to be leading or so and I have to force birdies. But the conditions I had didn't allow for it," he said.

"I have to 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."

Controversy

Mickelson managed two bogeys, an eagle and two birdies but was also involved in some controversy when he failed to shout fore on the fourth hole.

The five-time major winner hit his drive towards the crowd but he defended his decision not to warn anyone of his incoming ball.

"You can't hear it anyways," Mickelson said. "You can't hear it 20 yards up the fairway. The wind is in your ear, it doesn't make a bit of difference. You point and try to get people aware, but you can't hear that far up with the wind.

"It didn't (hit anyone) and I ended up getting a very lucky break, because I was in a hard area and I was able to get some spin. There were some really bad spots over there and I was lucky not to find them."

So despite Mickelson going into the weekend so far behind leader Rory McIlroy, he can't be ruled out. Trickier conditions are expected for the weekend and the American will look to use his experience to put himself right in contention come Sunday evening.

Topics:
Golf
The Open
Phil Mickleson
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