HOYLAKE, England (AP) — Phil Mickelson broke par in a major for the first time since he won last year's British Open. It was just what he needed Friday at Royal Liverpool to make sure he kept playing in this one.
Typical of Mickelson, it wasn't easy.
He missed a 4-foot birdie putt after one of his best shots of the day, and was so irritated by that it caused him to bogey the next hole. He lost his tee shot on the par-5 10th hole, had to play another tee shot but still made par by getting up-and-down from about 215 yards away with a 2-iron.
A 15-foot birdie putt on the final hole gave Mickelson a 2-under 70, bringing him back to par for the championship.
"Fortunately, I was able to fight hard and get it back on the back nine because I was 1-over par and then hit one out of bounds, essentially," Mickelson said. "So to get it back to even is good. And, hopefully, the weather is supposed to come in tomorrow. It will be tough for all of us."
Rory McIlroy proved more daunting than the weather. Mickelson finished his round and was only six shots behind. McIlroy pieced together another 66, and suddenly Lefty was 12 shots back.
Mickelson, who opened with a 74, appeared to be hitting his stride after a wild tee shot on No. 4 that flew over the gallery, so far right that it landed in grass that had been tamped down. He hit that to 4 inches for birdie, made eagle on the par-5 fifth hole and looked as if he would get under par when he hit a 5-iron on No. 7, the toughest at Hoylake, to 4 feet.
But he missed the birdie putt and walked quietly to the next tee, shaking his head. Mickelson usually puts blunders behind him quickly, but not this time. And it cost him. Playing aggressively to a pin tucked by a slope on the right side of the green, he went long and into the first cut. A flop shop wasn't hit hard enough and rolled back off the green. He had to make a 4-footer to escape with bogey.
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