Declawed: Phil's putting woes continue in Round 2


PINEHURST, N.C. – After a disappointing putting performance on Thursday, Phil Mickelson said it might be weeks, months, days or hours before he switched back to the conventional style.

Turns out it was the latter.

Alternating between the claw and conventional, Mickelson was even worse with the putter Friday at Pinehurst, requiring 34 putts on his way to a 3-over 73 that left him 13 shots behind leader Martin Kaymer heading into the weekend.

“The hole looks like a thimble to me right now,” Mickelson said.

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Lefty squandered an auspicious start (two birdies in his first three holes) and strong ball-striking (13 greens hit) by three-putting five times and tumbling down the leaderboard. When he walked off the course, he was in a tie for 34th.

Trying to complete the career grand slam where all of his U.S. Openheartbreak began 15 years ago, Mickelson instead looked like the guy who finished T-33 here in 2005. That year, he opened with 69 only to back it up with a second-round 77.

“I’m not overly optimistic,” he said. “Obviously I’m not in good position, but more than that, you can’t fire at a lot of pins. You’ve got to make 25- to 30-footers, and I’m just not doing that.”