NAPA, Calif. — Phil Mickelson didn’t mince words when asked about his 2-under 70 at Silverado Resort and Spa’s North Course in the third round of the Safeway Open: “This is the worst I’ve played in the last three months.”
Mickelson shot his second straight bogey-free round, which is nothing to sneeze at, but he hit just one fairway on the day and ranks 70th of 73 in strokes gained: off-the-tee (-1.889). “It’s deceptive because I didn’t make a bogey, but I didn’t drive it well, I didn’t chip it well and I didn’t putt well. I turned a 64 into a 70 and I’ve got some work to do,” he said.
Missing fairways will be more exponentially more penal next week at the U.S. Open and Mickelson knows that. He headed straight to the practice-putting green and started working with his Dave Pelz Putting Tutor, the beginning of an extensive range session alongside instructor Andrew Getson in search of answers.
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“I’m not discouraged because I’m fresh and I’m not worn out, so I can put in the time and the effort and the work to hopefully get it fixed,” Mickelson said.
Mickelson made birdies at Nos. 4 and 9, but parred the last nine holes. He improved to 8-under 208, middle of the pack and out of contention for winning the title on Sunday. Asked what he’d like to get out of Sunday’s final round, Mickelson said, “Scoring, getting the ball in the hole, hitting the shots, playing a good final round. You know, there’s some tough pins and to play smart, shape shots into there, make some putts, see if I can shoot something in the low 60s and get some momentum for next week.”
Mickelson is using this week as a warmup for the national championship he needs a victory in to complete the career Grand Slam — which this year is at Winged Foot, where he finished second in 2006.
“I would like to at least be competitive, you know, and give myself a reasonable chance. I drove it very poorly all week at Winged Foot in ’06 and my short game was phenomenal, it was the best short game week of my career. I need to strike it better,” he said. “I felt like I have been striking it better. You know, I struck it much better at the PGA (Championship), didn’t putt well, but if I put it together, I think I can be competitive and that’s what I would like to do, is have one or two more good chances at it.”