US Open

Mickelson clings to lead

2013-06-16 10:55
Phil Mickelson (AP Photo)
Pennsylvania - Five-time US Open runner-up Phil Mickelson has a golden chance to finally capture the major title that has heartbreakingly eluded him in Sunday's final round at challenging Merion.

On his 43rd birthday and Father's Day, the four-time major champion who skipped practice this week at Merion to fly across the nation and attend his daughter Amanda's middle school graduation could at last win a US Open.

"It has got the makings to be something special, but I still have to go out and perform and play some of my best golf," Mickelson said.

Mickelson made a rare birdie at the par-3 17th in Saturday's third round that eased the sting of a closing bogey in a par-70 round that put the left-hander atop the leaderboard at one-under par 209 after 54 holes.

Mickelson's 41 career titles include the 2004, 2006 and 2010 Masters and the 2005 PGA Championship but he has been second a record five times at the US Open -- 1999, 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2009.

He called himself an idiot after one near miss. Another came with him set to leave the course if a pager call came saying wife Amy was about to give birth to their first child, which was Amanda. They add up to frustration.

"I don't think I feel any more pressure than anybody else who wants to win a major championship, but it would certainly mean a lot to me tomorrow if I could play some of my best golf," Mickelson said.

"I do believe I've got an under par round in me tomorrow even with the difficult pins and the possibly firmer conditions."

Mickelson opens with a one-stroke edge over compatriots Steve Stricker and Hunter Mahan and South African Charl Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters champion. But he has been this close before and come away painfully empty handed.

"I've had opportunities in years past and it has been so fun, even though it has been heartbreaking to come so close a number of times and let it slide," Mickelson said.

"But I feel better equipped than I have ever felt heading into the final round of a US Open. My ball striking is better than it has ever been. My putting is better than it has been in years and I feel very comfortable on this golf course.

"I feel as well equipped as I could be heading into the final round."

There would be no better feel-good story for the fans at Merion that a victory by "Lefty" as spectators cheer Mickelson more than any other player.

"The support from the crowd has been really great," Mickelson said.

Mickelson's week began with a flight from rain-drenched Merion to Southern California so he could practice at home and attend his daughter Amanda's eighth-grade graduation ceremony on Wednesday.

An overnight airplane ride brought Mickelson back for his early Thursday tee time with little sleep, but he has been atop the leaderboard after every round, his journey allowing time for course notes as well as family time.

"I didn't feel I needed more time at Merion, what I needed was to get my game sharp and having a nice practice facility and nice weather allowed me to do that, so it worked out great on both ends," Mickelson said.

Father Time has creeped into the picture as well with birthday candles a reminder that only so many chances come in a lifetime. His wife and mother have battled cancer and Mickelson himself has had to ovecome psoriatic arthritis, a joint pain condition he treats with medication.

"At 43, I feel as good as I've ever felt. I'm in better shape than I've been in years," he said. "I feel stronger than I've been, more flexible. And I've had no injuries or aches or pains. My body feels great."

Collated scores on Saturday after the third round of the 113th US Open at at 6,996-yard, par-70 Merion Golf Club:

209 - Phil Mickelson (USA) 67-72-70

210 - Hunter Mahan (USA) 72-69-69, Charl Schwartzel (RSA) 70-71-69, Steve Stricker (USA) 71-69-70

211 - Justin Rose (ENG) 71-69-71, Luke Donald (ENG) 68-72-71, Billy Horschel (USA) 72-67-72

212 - Jason Day (AUS) 70-74-68

213 - Rickie Fowler (USA) 70-76-67

214 - Michael Kim (USA) 73-70-71

215 - Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (ESP) 71-72-72, Henrik Stenson (SWE) 74-68-73, Ian Poulter (ENG) 71-71-73, Nicolas Colsaerts (BEL) 69-72-74, John Senden (AUS) 70-71-74

216 - David Lingmerth (SWE) 74-71-71, Paul Casey (ENG) 73-72-71, Charley Hoffman (USA) 71-73-72, Paul Lawrie (SCO) 76-71-69, Lee Westwood (ENG) 70-77-69, Bo Van Pelt (USA) 73-71-72, Ernie Els (RSA) 71-72-73

217 - Bubba Watson (USA) 71-76-70, Edward Loar (USA) 73-71-73

218 - Jason Dufner (USA) 74-71-73, Jerry Kelly (USA) 70-73-75, Rory McIlroy (NIR) 73-70-75, Mathew Goggin (AUS) 68-74-76, Morten Orum Madsen (DEN) 74-74-70, Brandt Snedeker (USA) 74-74-70

219 - Jamie Donaldson (WAL) 73-73-73, Pan Cheng-Tsung (TPE) 72-72-75, John Huh (USA) 71-73-75, Matt Kuchar (USA) 74-73-72, John Parry (ENG) 76-71-72, Padraig Harrington (IRL) 73-71-75, Matt Bettencourt (USA) 72-71-76, Tiger Woods (USA) 73-70-76

220 - Scott Langley (USA) 75-70-75, Hideki Matsuyama (JPN) 71-75-74, Adam Scott (AUS) 72-75-73, Kim Bi-O (KOR) 72-75-73, David Hearn (CAN) 78-69-73

221 - K.J Choi (KOR) 70-76-75, Webb Simpson (USA) 71-75-75, Sergio Garcia (ESP) 73-73-75, Carl Pettersson (SWE) 72-75-74, Marcel Siem (GER) 73-71-77, George Coetzee (RSA) 71-73-77, Russell Knox (SCO) 69-75-77, Geoff Ogilvy (AUS) 74-70-77

222 - Kevin Chappell (USA) 72-76-74, Josh Teater (USA) 74-74-74, Nicolas Thompson (USA) 72-76-74

223 - Martin Laird (SCO) 74-73-76, Scott Stallings (USA) 71-76-76, Steven Alker (NZL) 73-75-75, Dustin Johnson (USA) 71-77-75, Mike Weir (CAN) 72-76-75

224 - Alistair Presnell (AUS) 73-75-76, Jim Herman (USA) 76-72-76, Matt Weibring (USA) 75-73-76

225 - David Howell (ENG) 77-71-77, Martin Kaymer (GER) 76-72-77

226 - Michael Weaver (USA) 74-74-78, John Peterson (USA) 73-75-78, Kevin Phelan (IRL) 71-77-78

227 - Peter Hedblom (SWE) 70-78-79

230 - Shawn Stefani (USA) 72-73-85, Kyle Stanley (USA) 71-74-85, Simon Kahn (ENG) 74-74-82

231 - Kevin Sutherland (USA) 73-74-84

232 - Robert Karlsson (SWE) 74-72-86

Read more on:    pga tour  |  us open  |  phil mickelson  |  golf

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