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Devil Ball Golf

Phil Mickelson puts together one of his best starts in Open career

Shane Bacon
Devil Ball Golf

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Phil Mickelson's opening round of 70 on Thursday at the British Open wasn't the best he's ever had. That happened in 2002, when Phil opened with a 68. It wasn't even the second-best start of his career at this tournament.

But unlike most of the other times Phil has started off with a solid round, Lefty was able to follow it up with another great round of golf on Friday when he posted a 1-under 69, tying his career best 36-hole number at this event. And unlike most of the other times, this score could be just two or three shots back of the lead come Friday evening in Sandwich.

People tend to criticize Mickelson more than they praise the guy, so let me take a moment to say just how solid Phil has played over the two days at Royal St. George's. Phil has hit 50 percent of the fairways in two rounds, a great number considering how bumpy and sneaky they can be to find at this course. He has made two birdies each day, with all four coming on the course's two par-5s, and if the putter could start heating up, Mickelson might just play himself into contention coming moving day.

Phil has yet to three-putt this week on the tough greens at Royal St. George's, and as much flak as he gets for his Open record, we must remember that the one top 10 he has at this event was at Royal Troon in 2004, an equally tough golf course that he played brilliantly all week.

Would Mickelson making a move on Saturday and putting himself into one of the last two groups be the biggest possible storyline coming out of Sandwich? I believe so, but it shouldn't be all that surprising. Before the week, Phil mentioned that he was coming into this event with a completely different outlook on the tournament, and it seems that Mickelson plays the best golf when people expect little out of him. The story heading into the Open wasn't about Phil, it was about Rory and Luke and Lee and Steve. Mickelson was as much of an afterthought as he's been since Tiger Woods went on that run in the early part of the 2000s.

For a guy that has long been considered erratic on the links, Phil has been anything but for 36 holes at Royal St. George's. If the putts start dropping, things could get very interesting for a Lefty who never seemed molded for this type of golf.

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