sport

Mickelson rues missed chance

Defending champion Phil Mickelson felt he missed a good opportunity to make a move up the leaderboard on day three of the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool.

Mickelson was among the day's first starters, teeing off at 9am, but failed to take advantage of unexpectedly good scoring conditions.

The left-hander, level par and 10 behind halfway leader Rory McIlroy overnight, gained just one stroke on the course as he shot a 71.

Mickelson said: "We had beautiful scoring conditions, first group off. If we could have shot seven, eight, nine under par - it probably was out there.

"It was as easy as I've seen the course play. We could have made some noise. It could have been a lot lower, and I let a lot of shots slide."

Mickelson started with a birdie three but dropped three shots before the turn.

He said: "I'm frustrated because I've thrown so many shots away each round. I feel like I'm playing a lot better than what I'm scoring, and that's frustrating me.

"I know that it's not far off, but it's got to click. It just hasn't yet.

"Just having success in this tournament in the past means a lot to me but getting a taste of it last year, I just want it more."

The R&A, the tournament organisers, decided on a two-tee start for the first time in Open history and sent out three-ball groups after receiving a severe weather forecast.

The rain was heavy early on but the thunderstorms that were feared did not arrive in the morning.

Once the rain eased off, with little wind, the course actually offered plenty of opportunities to score well.

Keegan Bradley, who started at the first along with Mickelson and Jason Dufner, said the conditions - after a difficult start - were far better than he had expected.

Bradley, whose 69 took him to three under, said: "I seem to have been on the wrong side of a couple of draws now and it rained pretty good on those first six holes.

"There were some pretty easy pins on those holes when we were grinding out pars, but you expect that here.

"I think everybody was getting ready for a hurricane or extreme rain, but it's actually really nice right now. It's as nice as you could ever imagine over here."