Mickelson’s putting lets him down
If “being in the zone” is seeing a baseball like a grapefruit or the rim as a 40-gallon trash can, Phil Mickelson admittedly is as far away from the “zone” as an athlete can get going into rounds three and four of the U.S. Open.
It’s also, Mickelson said, and showed with missed short putts late in his second round Friday afternoon on the back nine of Pinehurst No. 2, the part of the game typically most associated with Mickelson.
“I feel like I’m playing well enough to win the U.S. Open, except for putting,” Mickelson said.
“The hole looks like a thimble to me right now. I’m having a hard time finding it,” he said after shooting a three-over-par 73 in the second round.
Mickelson started out even par through 18, the birdies on No. 2 and No. 3 energized a huge gallery following Mickelson, defending champ Justin Rose and teen amateur Matthew Fitzpatrick for a second day.
“It was fantastic,” Fitzpatrick said of the crowds.
From the gallery, 19-year-old Fitzpatrick, an English kid who won the U.S. Amateur last summer, carried the same easy-looking demeanor as Mickelson and Rose do. There’s certainly no telling his game is any different.
Fitzpatrick made the cut for the second time in a major, along with last summer’s Open Championship, shooting 71 and 73 alongside Rose and Mickelson.
“The crowd was brilliant with Phil. They’re really supportive of him. It was great to play with Justin. He was really supportive himself. He’s a great guy to play with and just a great guy in person. So, yeah, I really enjoyed it and it was nice to have such a big following,” said Fitzpatrick.
This weekend will be his last tournament as an amateur.
“I think I still got a bit to go,” he said. “I think everyone can say that, I guess, whether they’re trying to win a major, keep their card or win a first event. But for me, at the minute, it’s just try to keep on making cuts and taking it from there, really.”
The defending U.S. Open champ played a Friday round which perhaps puts him back in contention.
Rose followed a 72 with a 69, moving to one over par. He birdied the 307-yard par-four No. 3, followed by a three at the 523-yard par-four No. 4.
Rose is five shots from second-place Brendon Todd. He’s 11 from Martin Kaymer. Rose feels he could’ve drawn a little closer.
“Yeah, I played really well,” Rose said. “I think I hit every fairway today. So if you do that, you got chances. I just didn’t make anything from the 15, 20 foot range, which is what you need to do.”
At least it’s what Rose or anyone else will have to do more than a few times to catch Kaymer.
Rose credits Kaymer while also not giving up the tournament, yet.
“(Kaymer) has always been strong under pressure,” Rose said.
“He seems very clear and comfortable with what he’s doing. So obviously the next two days will really test him and find out just how comfortable he is, but right now he looks great,” said Rose.