Kelly shot a 5-under 65 in Friday's second round to take sole possession of second place and earn a spot in Saturday's final pairing.
``That's exactly what I love. Just to be in that theater is going to be fun,'' he said. ``There's going to be so many people out there. They're going to be screaming.''
Mickelson has received a rousing reception at Baltusrol, but Kelly, who went to the University of Hartford, expects to have his own cheering section.
``They know I've got a lot of Northeast in me,'' he said. ``I'll probably hear a lot of them cheering for me, too.''
Kelly had plenty of reason to cheer Friday. Starting on the back nine, he made the turn at 2-under and squeezed three more birdies out of his final nine, including holing a sand shot at the ninth.
``It does feel good, especially with the year I've had,'' he said. ``It's been pretty mediocre. I knew it was coming; I've been close. It's nice to put it together.''
On Friday, he hit 12 of 14 fairways, 14 of 18 greens in regulation and rolled in birdie putts from 20, 10, 8 and 5 feet.
But that hasn't been the usual routine for Kelly. He's had just one top 10 and eight top 25s in 20 tournaments.
But he's changed his outlook on the game, an epiphany that came at the British Open, where he missed the cut at St. Andrews after rounds of 74 and 73.
``I'm brutally hard on myself. Brutally hard and brutally honest. ... There comes a time when you've got to cut yourself a little slack and kind of enjoy what you're doing.''
For Kelly, that came at the British Open. After missing the cut, he stopped to watch Jack Nicklaus close out his final major, and was moved.
``To see a true gentleman like that, and what he's done for the game, it did move me quite a bit,'' he said. ``Those are the types of feelings I want to take with me.''
He'll get an opportunity to make some memories in the last group Saturday, and he's anxious for the chance.
``I'm not in the lead. I'm close to the lead,'' he said. ``Execution of the game plan, execution of what you're trying to do with your swing, keeping your mind calm. Those are the things that will get tougher to do, but those are the things you have to do.
``Some of the simplest things in this game are the toughest to do. I'm going to try to make it extremely simple and see how well I can stick to it.''