Archive for Saturday, June 19, 2010

McDowell leads, but Lefty making charge at U.S. Open

June 19, 2010

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— With each birdie, Phil Mickelson put some life into an overcast day at Pebble Beach and gave himself another chance finally to take something more than silver home from a U.S. Open.

Phil Mickelson reacts after making a birdie on the fourth hole on Friday during the second round of the U.S. Open in Pebble Beach, Calif.

Phil Mickelson reacts after making a birdie on the fourth hole on Friday during the second round of the U.S. Open in Pebble Beach, Calif.

One day after he didn’t make a single birdie, Mickelson made six of them Friday. It wasn’t enough to catch Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland, who set the early pace with a 3-under 68 to take a two-shot lead into the weekend, but all that mattered to Mickelson was getting back to even par.

With five birdies in a seven-hole stretch early in his round, Mickelson shot a tournament-best 66 and joined a shrinking group of five players who have beaten par over two days at Pebble Beach.

McDowell was at 3-under 139, and he made even more friends with a bogey on the final hole that assured 60-year-old Tom Watson of two more rounds in what likely will be his final U.S. Open.

Mickelson was joined at 1-under 141 by two-time U.S. Open champion Ernie Els (68), 18-year-old Ryo Ishikawa (71) and Dustin Johnson (70), who has won the last two times in the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and looks right at home in much firmer conditions.

The names weren’t important to Mickelson. Only the numbers.

“I’m in a good spot,” said Mickelson, whose five runner-up finishes is a U.S. Open record. “I don’t look at the leaderboard. I don’t look at other players. I look at par. If you can stay around par, you’re going to be in the tournament Sunday. That was kind of the goal.”

The Masters champion opened with a 75 Thursday.

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