HOYLAKE, England -- A shot out of play -- on which he still made par -- and a birdie-eagle run had Phil Mickelson thinking about getting back into the tournament.
He'll have to settle for making the cut and needing some help after a 2-under-par 70 at Royal Liverpool on Friday left him at 144, even par, and 5 strokes back of the leaders at the Open Championship.
"I played really well today, but there were a couple of loose shots," Mickelson said. "The drive on 10, the missed putt on 7 ended up costing me another one on 8. And I ended up giving four or five shots away, but I played really well. Shot 2 under. There was like a mental barrier to get it back to even par, so that putt on 18 was big."
Mickelson, who has failed to crack the top 10 on the PGA Tour this year and has not won since his victory a year ago at Muirfield, continues to say that his game is close.
And he showed flashes on Friday when he birdied the fourth and followed with an eagle at the fifth. A good par at the sixth and an excellent approach at the seventh had him just 4 feet from another birdie. But he missed.
"It was a terrible putt," Mickelson said. "I came up and out of it. I hit just a great shot into that pin. I had to hook a 5-iron into a direct slice wind, and ran it up there to 4 feet, and to hit that terrible putt ..."
It ended up costing him on the next hole.
"I wasn't patient," he said. "I tried to get that shot a little bit close. And what happens is I drew that 8-iron with the wind, and when it's going downwind, it just doesn't stop. So I had to work it back into the middle of the green. I should have hit it 30 feet. I thought I'm going to try to get one close. Hit it over the green, hit a poor chip and make bogey.
"The back nine, though, I actually played pretty good. I putted very good. I hit a lot of good shots."
Mickelson's back nine began poorly when he hit his tee shot at the par-5 10th well left, leading to a lost ball and a provisional tee shot. From there, he hit his drive into the fairway, knocked a 2-iron from 213 yards onto the green and made a 6-footer for a rather remarkable par.
Mickelson is now at the mercy of the weather. If the wind lets up Friday afternoon, he would expect there to be better scoring and a wider margin to make up.
If not, he could very well enter the weekend in good shape.
"Tomorrow when the [expected poor weather] conditions come in, there's going to be a lot of scores that go 5, 6, 7 over par," he said. "If I can shoot something under par, I'll be right in it for Sunday."