At the third major, he has been reduced to a couch potato.
'It's going to be an interesting day watching the leaders play,' Mickelson said Saturday after needing a birdie-par-eagle finish for a 73, leaving him 10 shots out of the lead in the British Open. 'I just wish I was one of the leaders.'
Mickelson reached 4 under after his first 10 holes of this championship, but has been sliding ever since. He didn't make his first birdie Saturday until the par-5 16th hole.
'After I was 3 over after nine and realizing that the chances of winning were not there, I just wanted to play well, hit good shots and keep grinding, and see if I could get it to turn. The last three holes were nice. That was good, but not quite enough.'
Mickelson twice made special trips to Hoylake to study the course, although he mentioned at the start of the week that no matter how well he understands the subtle nuances, it still comes down to hitting shots.
'I want to really get together one good round of golf,' he said. 'I know I can do that here.'
FUNK JUST SAYS NO
Fred Funk spent two weeks on the Champions Tour and decided it could wait.
'We're not quite mentally ready for that jump over,' Funk said.
Funk tied for 11th in the U.S. Senior Open, his debut in the 50-and-over circuit, then tied for 11th last week at the Senior Players Championship. He had planned to stick around next week for the Senior British Open at Turnberry, but never submitted his entry and will not play.
In fact, the only Champions Tour event he will play the rest of the year will be in San Antonio.
Funk has the luxury of taking his time, having won The Players Championship last year at age 48. That came with a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour that takes him through 2010, and with more than $18 million in career money, he could even take an exemption after that.
'The Players has really thrown a wrench into this,' he said.
Funk didn't have a miserable experience with guys his own age, he's simply not ready to give up trying against the best players in the world. He mentioned good friends he already had, such as Loren Roberts and Jay Haas, and new acquaintances Jim Thorpe and Dana Quigley.
The ultimate late bloomer, he has qualified for the last three U.S. teams (twice the Presidents Cup, once the Ryder Cup) and has been to the Tour Championship the last four years.
'I'm just not finished out here yet,' he said.
Also, his children are 14, 10 and 6, and the family travels everywhere. Most of their friends remain on the PGA Tour.
Funk says he is hitting the ball better than he was last year, just not getting the same results. His best chance came at New Orleans, where he closed with a 62 and nearly got into a playoff until Chris Couch saved par by chipping in from behind the 18th green.
The more he spoke Saturday afternoon after a 75 left him toward the bottom of the pack, Funk sounded as though competing against the best would be as meaningful as winning on the Champions Tour.
'There's nothing like winning,' Funk said. 'Once I start having trouble finishing off tournaments, and the frustration sets in, I'll probably think about going over there.'
In the meantime, he will leave the British Open for Milwaukee, play the Buick Open, PGA Championship and Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone, and continue competing on the PGA Tour with hopes of getting into the Tour Championship again.
John Senden lost all momentum when he took triple bogey on the 11th after losing his ball in high grass. The consolation came two holes later with a 6-iron that went into the cup for an ace on the par-3 13th.
'I didn't see it go in as there was a hill just short of the green,' Senden said. 'Pretty good cheer.'
Senden wound up with a 73 after an up-and-down day. He had two birdies, the hole-in-one for an eagle and no bogeys. The trouble was that triple at No. 11, and a double-bogey 7 on the 18th hole when he hit into three bunkers.
The highlight, obviously, was the ace.
'It's exciting when things happen like that, and it certainly will jog my memory when I'm thinking about this place,' he said.
A TIP FOR CABRERA
Angel Cabrera is one of the biggest hitters on the PGA Tour, and he's not afraid to use driver at Royal Liverpool -- especially after playing with Seve Ballesteros during a practice round earlier this week.
'I said to Seve, 'How do you play this golf course?' And Seve said, 'The closer you get it to the green, the more chance you have.' And that's the way it's played,' Cabrera said.
While Tiger Woods has hit only one driver in three rounds at Hoylake, the Argentine is hitting driver 'whenever I can.' The only time he used an iron off the tee was on Nos. 2, 4 and 8.
'Everywhere else I hit driver,' he said. 'Except the par 3s.'
Cabrera has played all three days with Mark Calcavecchia, another guy who likes to swing from the heels
'I get on well with him,' he said. 'He's easy to play with.'
Calcavecchia, who won the British Open in 1989, won the Argentine Open in 1993 and 1995.
Scott Verplank finished his 67 before Tiger Woods and Ernie Els headed for the practice range. Verplank reached 6 under, which at least gave him a shot to pick up Ryder Cup points if he can play well Sunday to get into the top 10.
A TV reporter asked if he would go back to his room and watch the 'confrontation' between Woods and Els.
'They are both supremely talented players and it's going to be fun, and hopefully, it will be good back-and-forth and nip-and-tuck,' Verplank said. 'And if it isn't, I'll probably take a nap.'
Paul Casey took two triple bogeys, both times from the bunker. It took him three shots to get out of the bunker at No. 10, and two shots to escape a bunker on the 14th. He wound up with a 79. 'It wasn't the number of bunkers, it was the number of shots I took to get out,' he said. ... Sergio Garcia's 29 on the front nine was one shot shy of the British Open record for nine holes. Denis Durnian had a 28 at Royal Birkdale in 1983. Garcia will go into the final round having not made a bogey in 23 holes. ... Hideto Tanihara, in just his second career major, was three shots off the lead in seventh place. No player from Japan has won a major title; the country's best finish at the British Open was turned in by Massy Kuramoto, who tied for fourth in 1982.
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