Phil Mickelson finished second-round play at the U.S. Open one-under par overall after Friday's two-over 72. He was tied for the lead with Billy Horschel when he finished the day with some late starters still on the course.
Though it is hard to argue with a tie for first, Mickelson's day could have been much better.
Here is a look at the live leaderboard and Mickelson's scorecard:
Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa., has been tough on everyone through two rounds. Because no one has been able to tame the course, Mickelson's less-than stellar day isn't looking quite so bad.
He has only himself to blame for not being in an even better position going into the weekend, though. Perhaps the fact that the Mashed Potato Heckler was back in action jinxed him:
Simply playing the course even on Friday would have given him a huge advantage, but his erratic putting made the day a bit of a struggle at times. Mickelson's issues began on the first hole.
Bogey on First Hole
The Boston Globe's Michael Whitmer tweeted this after Mickelson's day got off to a rough start:
Though it may have sounded negative, it proved to be prophetic as Mickelson would indeed bogey two more holes for the rest of the day.
Of the three holes he bogeyed on Friday, this one was perhaps the easiest to accept. Mickelson's early struggles tightened an already snug leaderboard even more. The official PGA Tour Twitter account commented:
Missed Opportunities Through the Front Nine
With legitimate opportunities for birdie on the second and eighth hole, Mickelson couldn't convert. After a stellar shot out of the bunker on No. 2, he had to settle for par.
On the eighth hole, he had an even better chance to regain the shot he lost on the first hole, but again came up short. He narrowly missed an eagle, but it seemed he was set up for a can't-miss, two-foot birdie.
Mickelson proved nothing is automatic in golf by botching the short attempt. KPMG Mickelson had this to say after Lefty missed the birdie putt on No. 8:
Mickelson's Woeful Two-Hole Stretch
Despite a few missed opportunities early, Mickelson was still having a decent day. This is the U.S. Open, so pars are more than acceptable. Up until the 12th hole, Mickelson had strung together 10 pars in a row.
That comfortable streak came to an end when he understandably missed a 30-foot birdie putt on No. 12, but he subsequently missed the come-backer putt that could have saved par.
Mickelson's woes continued on the 13th hole. On perhaps the easiest hole of the course, he again couldn't save par. ESPN's Bob Harig dished the cold, hard truth:
Per Sports Illustrated Golf on Twitter, that miss dropped Mickelson out of the lead, one shot behind Steve Stricker, Justin Rose and Horschel:
Saving the Best for Last
Just when it looked like Mickelson's second round would be the beginning of his undoing, he came up with a clutch birdie putt on 18 to regain a share of the lead. PGA Tour captured the essence of the moment that is vintage Mickelson:
Still in a Great Spot
Despite the missed putts that led to a two-over 72, Mickelson is still atop the leaderboard. Even if one of the late starters gets hot, it won't change the fact that Mickelson is in a great position to win the U.S. Open.
He'll need to shake off the mistakes and build off the birdie on 18 to create some distance between him and the field.
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