sport

Mickelson accepts links luck

Phil Mickelson admits his Open victory at Muirfield last year has made it easier for him to accept the rub of the green that comes with links golf, having played in the worst of conditions on both of the first two days in Hoylake.

Mickelson carded a second round of 70 at Royal Liverpool on Friday for a halfway total of level par, despite seeming to have played in the worst of the conditions each day.

"If the wind stays up, absolutely I am (still in the tournament), but I have a feeling that the conditions are supposed to get softer this afternoon," Mickelson said.

"And if that's the case I'll be quite a ways back. But tomorrow when the conditions come in (rain is forecast), there's going to be a lot of scores that go five, six, seven over par. If I can shoot something under par, I'll be right in it for Sunday."

Mickelson's win at Muirfield came in his 20th appearance in the Open and leaves him just needing to win the US Open to complete a career grand slam.

"It takes pressure off. You don't feel the pressure of trying to force a win," the 44-year-old added. "Also I'm more accepting of the fact that I'm on the poor end of the tee times. I've also been on the good end of the tee times and you accept that as part of the tournament.

"The tendency is I see the scores and seven, eight under par is probably going to be leading or so and I have to force birdies. But the conditions I had didn't allow for it. I have to play as well as I can with the conditions that I'm in. If even par is the best I can do, that's all I can do. Now I might be seven or eight back, but I can't control that. If I try to force it, I'm missing the cut."

Mickelson carded two bogeys, an eagle from six feet on the fifth and two birdies, one of which came from a brilliant second shot to within inches of the hole on the fourth.

What was not so brilliant however, was the fact that the five-time major winner failed to shout fore as his drive on that hole was heading into the crowd.

"You can't hear it anyways," Mickelson said. "You can't hear it 20 yards up the fairway. The wind is in your ear, it doesn't make a bit of difference. You point and try to get people aware, but you can't hear that far up with the wind.

"It didn't (hit anyone) and I ended up getting a very lucky break, because I was in a hard area and I was able to get some spin. There were some really bad spots over there and I was lucky not to find them."

Apart from the eagle on the fifth, the highlight of Mickelson's round came on the 10th, where he lost a ball off the tee but then hit a two-iron approach to within six feet with his second ball to save par.