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Mickelson eagles 18th, 3 shot back in PGA

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 8, 2014 at 9:48 pm •  Published: August 8, 2014

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Phil Mickelson smiled and flashed a thumbs-up as he looked over his left shoulder after his best hole in the PGA Championship.

It might have been enough for Rory McIlroy to look over his shoulder at Mickelson.

Mickelson's eagle on the par-5 18th hole brought a loud cheer from the gallery at Valhalla. He took on the flag and thought it might be long until it settled some 9 feet away. Lefty calmly made the putt to another roar to cap a 4-under 67. At 6-under 136, he was three strokes behind McIlroy.

Mickelson's 69-67 start is his best in a major since he won the 2005 PGA Championship at Baltusrol. And considering he's looking to end a drought going back to last year's British Open, he needs that kind of momentum.

"It was a long day, but for me it was a good day," said Mickelson, who added four birdies to offset two bogeys in what began as a soggy round. "I fought hard, I didn't get off to the greatest start, was patient with the round. ...

"There's a lot of guys at 4-, 5-, 6-, 7-under par right there. Out of that group somebody is going to get hot. I think I have that hot round in me, too."

Playing alongside a hobbled Tiger Woods — who missed the cut after shooting his second straight 3-over 74 — and Padraig Harrington, Mickelson again stood out. But unlike his opening round where he shot 69 but was all over the place, he played more carefully on the rain-softened terrain.

The signs were there on the front side, when Mickelson shook off a bogey on the par-4 fourth to make the turn with birdies on two of the final three holes before adding another on the 10th.

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