HOYLAKE, England – Not even a familiar three-ball with Keegan Bradley and Jason Dufner could shake Phil Mickelson out of his season-long doldrums.
In the first group off, and in ideal scoring conditions, Mickelson could muster only a 1-under 71 Saturday that left him outside the top 30 heading into the finalround of the Open Championship.
Bradley shot 69, while Dufner slumped to a 74.
“I’m frustrated because I’ve thrown so many shots away each round,” Mickelson said. “I feel like I’m playing a lot better than what I’m scoring, and that’s frustrating me.”
After a birdie on his opening hole, Lefty went out in 2-over 37. Three birdies in a four-hole stretch to start the back nine gave him his second consecutive under-par round, but he has yet to post a score in the 60s on a softer, tamer Royal Liverpool.
“I threw countless opportunities away, all throughout the day,” he said. “It’s just frustrating. I know that it’s not far off, but it’s got to click. It just hasn’t yet.”
Mickelson might have been bummed afterward, but Bradley was still buzzing after what he described as “the most relaxed atmosphere I’ve ever had in a tournament.” Bradley estimated that he and Mickelson have played “about 50” money games over the past few years, and they’ve also teamed together in U.S. competitions.
Dufner and Bradley share the same swing coach, Chuck Cook, and are frequent practice-round partners.
The weather helped ease the mood, too.
Even par through two rounds, Bradley anticipated a normal 11 a.m. tee time for the third round. When the split-tee pairings were announced late Friday night, he quickly had to change his plans and head to bed for a 5:30 a.m. wakeup.
The trio arrived at the course “expecting a hurricane,” Bradley said, but the hard stuff never came, the wind barely blew, and Hoylake played as easy as it had all week.