Eight strokes off the lead at halfway in the British Open, Mickelson realistically needs the leaders to struggle spectacularly at Royal Liverpool if he has any chance of adding a first Open to his two Masters championships and one PGA Championship title.
'I'm not obviously excited about being eight shots back,' he said. 'But I still feel that a good round tomorrow and I shall have a chance on Sunday and that's the goal.
'There's two rounds left and so a lot of things can still happen.'
Defending champion Woods is 12-under 132 and Els 11-under after rounds of 65.
Mickelson's previous major ended in a final-round debacle. At last month's U.S. Open he went to the 72nd with a one-stroke lead only to make double bogey and lose the title to Geoff Ogilvy.
Mickelson blamed a stiffening breeze for his second-round 71 Friday, which left him tied for 22nd with a 4-under 140.
'You just don't know what's going to happen in this tournament,' he said. 'I remember Muirfield just a few years ago when the weather kicked in and you were punished for leading because the weather was so tough and the guys who just made the cut played in perfect weather.'
Mickelson was referring to the 2002 Open when Ernie Els squandered a 3-stroke lead with five holes to play and wound up winning a four-man playoff.
'Stuff like that can happen, you just never know,' Mickelson said. 'And you have to be patient and hang in there and make birdies where they are. There's a lot of golf left.'
He knows he has to make a lot more than the three birdies he collected at Royal Liverpool, two of them at the par 5s.
'If you play the par 5s well and make it a par 68 and then have one or two more birdies then you have a nice round of 66,' he said. 'So the par 5s are really critical. You don't have to birdie all of them but they're the holes where you can make up some ground.
'I really can't do too much other than make some more putts. I have to make some 20-40 footers.'
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.