By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
NORTON, Mass. — Phil Mickelson shot a second-straight 68 on Saturday. Only, this one was a little scrappier than the bogey-free first round of 3 under.
"I didn’t hit as many fairways so I wasn’t able to be as aggressive into the greens," Mickelson explained. "But I shot 3 under my back nine, the front, and made some good birdies coming in. I putted well, and I didn’t think it was playing that easy. There was a lot of crosswinds today, which is a different wind than what we had the day before."
Still, Mickelson was 6 under when he finished, trailing Rory McIlroy by the same number of shots with two rounds remaining. If he can find more fairways — Mickelson only hit 6 on Saturday — so he can go at more pins, the big lefthander sees the opportunity to make up some ground.
"I know that I need a hot round tomorrow for a good chance on Monday’s final round, but the way I’m playing and the way I feel on the greens, I feel like I can do it," Mickelson said.
Mickelson is using a version of the claw grip and adjusted the weight in his putter. He’s gone to 40 grams instead of 20 and feels the heavier putter retains its sensitivity while the head stays stable.
Mickelson doubled his birdie count over the first round but gave three shots back to par, including consecutive bogeys at the 15th and 16th as he turned in even par. He made a 12-footer for birdie at the first hole but negated that with a disappointing bogey at the par-5 second before making three birdies coming home on putts of 13, 7 and 3 feet.
"I feel really good, especially on the short putts, and I made three 15-footers today for birdie that felt really good," Mickelson said. "And if I can get myself in position to be aggressive and hit some good iron shots, I think I can make a good run."