Come on. You didn't think Phil Mickelson was going to make this easy, did you?
In classic fashion, Phil gave back on Saturday much of the ground he'd gained on Friday, posting a two-over round to leave himself seven shots out of the lead and needing a huge rally, along with some collapses by the higher-ups, to make a serious charge at finally winning a U.S. Open.
Thing is, no matter who's atop the leaderboard, whether it's Tiger Woods or Dustin Johnson, Mickelson will still be doing battle with himself -- and somehow, he manages to lose that battle at the worst possible times.
Take, for instance, Saturday's round. Mickelson had makeable putts that he missed. He took ridiculous shots on 17 and 18 that only his amazing short game could salvage. He damn near plunged off a cliffside trying to hit a shot righthanded on No. 9. And he looked like he wanted to consider playing his tee shot off the freaking beach on 18 before wising up.
It makes for great television, yes, but it doesn't make for a particularly great chance at winning a U.S. Open.
Should Phil lose this Open, the haters will be out in force, saying he once again choked when he had the opportunity to win. But barring a yipped putt late Sunday, that won't be the case. This is just Phil being Phil. When you watch him, you pay your money and you take the ride. Sometimes it pays off, and sometimes it's a train wreck in 74 strokes.
Still, Phil's trying to stay optimistic. "Sunday at the Open, a lot of things can happen," Mickelson said. "And I'll be off with the leaders, and I need to get hot in those first 7 holes that you can make birdies. You can make up a lot of ground if you make birdies Sunday at the U.S. Open."
He's right, of course. Birdies do tend to help one's game. But he's got two major obstacles in his way on Sunday: the course and his own head. He'll have to master both to have any shot of winning this thing.