Phil confident in putter; contending at Honda


PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Phil Mickelson didn’t just make the cut at the Honda Classic Saturday morning, he got himself in the hunt to win.

He also found returning confidence in his putter.

After missing back-to-back cuts to end his West Coast swing, Mickelson rebounded here at PGA National’s Champions Course, shooting a 3-under-par 67 in the second round. He’s tied for 8th, five shots off the lead.

“It was a good round,” Mickelson said. “You know, 3‑under par got me back into position where I could make a move on the third round, and that's kind of the goal. I'll see if I can get a little bit better rhythm . . . I feel good on the greens.”

Mickelson, 44,  is looking for his first victory since winning the British Open 19 months ago. He’s coming off his first winless season since ’03.

Mickelson closed out his second round Saturday morning holing an 8-foot birdie putt. He needed just 26 putts on the round.

After calling his putting “pathetic” following his missed cut at the Farmers Insurance Open in his last start, Mickelson said his stroke’s feeling better.

“I have not been worried about my putting even though I had problems the first few weeks of the year,” Mickelson said. “That's not been the issue for me. It has not been an area of concern, especially in the off‑season.

“It's such a small stroke that it's just not a hard fix. It seemed pretty easy to get it back. You get greens like this that are just perfect condition and very soft movement around the holes and you're going to make a lot of putts. It just builds confidence.”

After three starts on the West Coast, Mickelson ranked 162nd in strokes gained putting. He left Torrey Pines frustrated with his putting after that last missed cut. He went back-and-forth between a conventional grip and claw grip on the West Coast but is making the conventional grip work at PGA National.

“I'm frustrated, I'm down,” Mickelson said leaving Torrey Pines, “Because I see other parts of my game do very well, but putting as bad as I have, it starts to creep in to some of the other areas, too.”

Mickelson likes the way he’s striking the ball now, though he said he wasn’t as sharp Saturday morning. He played 10 holes in the morning finishing up Friday’s suspended round.

“I didn't hit it as well as I've been hitting it,” Mickelson said. “So, I feel like there's some room for improvement. It felt really good yesterday. Today my rhythm was a little bit off this morning.  So I'll get to the range and I'll have a couple‑of‑hour break to be able to get the rhythm back.