Southampton - Phil Mickelson, needing only a US Open title
to become the sixth man to complete the career Grand Slam, will still be
gunning for the elusive victory this weekend.
Mickelson will celebrate his 48th birthday on Saturday
playing in the third round after grinding out a second-round 69 to make the cut
with two strokes to spare on six-over 146.
"I played a lot better," said Mickelson, who was
on the ropes after a first-round 77. "We got lucky with the conditions
getting much easier. Our wave of tee times was significantly easier, and it
shows how impressive Dustin Johnson is playing because he played in much more
difficult conditions and he's beating everybody by a lot."
World number one Johnson was the only man under par through
36 holes, leading the tournament with a four-under total of 136.
Although he's 10 adrift - on a Shinnecock Hills course that
has punished some of the world's best - Mickelson wasn't downhearted.
He cited the 1995 US Open, also at Shinnecock, recalling
that Neil Lancaster went out in benign morning conditions and shot an opening
nine-hole score of 29 to thrust himself into contention.
Mickelson, who will have an early tee time, thinks a similar
charge isn't out of the realm of possibility.
"If I can shoot that or anybody who just made the cut,
I think there's potential," he said. "You just never know in this
Despite his disappointing score on Thursday, Mickelson isn't
disappointed in his game.
Not known for consistency off the tee, he has missed just
two fairways so far - at the third hole in both rounds, and has yet to make a
double bogey or worse.
"I drove it great. I didn't putt well, didn't chip
well. I'm having trouble getting the ball close around the greens. I'm having
trouble getting the ball to the hole is what I'm having trouble doing. I can't
get it to release up the hill.
"And then once it gets to the pin, it goes away, so I
don't want to go past, and I'm just leaving everything short. Same thing
"So I'm going to have to be a little more aggressive
around the greens, trying to get the ball to the hole.
"I'm not thinking birdie," Mickelson added,
"but I'll have to make some more."