Phil Mickelson said he needed to get into contention this week in Memphis to “really help my odds and my chances” at the U.S. Open.
So far, so good for Lefty, who birdied three of his last four holes Thursday to shoot 3-under 67 and sit just one shot off the early clubhouse lead at the FedEx St. Jude Classic. Two-time U.S. Open winner Retief Goosen leads the way after a 66. Play was suspended at 1:15 p.m. local time because of inclement weather.
Off to the worst start of his career, Mickelson has gone 16 consecutive PGA Tour events without a top-10 finish, dating to last season. The only event in which he was in contention heading into the final round was the Wells Fargo Championship, where he closed with 76 to fall to T-11.
This was only the third time in his past nine starts that he opened with a round in the 60s.
Starting on the back nine at TPC Southwind, Mickelson was 1 over par through 11 holes Thursday when he came home with birdies on Nos. 3, 6, 8 and 9 to post 67 – an impressive score, considering he hit only six fairways and 11 greens. He required just 25 putts.
“Finishing the round the way I did, that’s exactly what I need to do and some momentum that I need heading into the U.S. Open,” he said afterward.
Mickelson has played Memphis each of the past two years as a final tuneup for the following week’s U.S. Open. Last year he parlayed a T-2 finish in Tennessee into another runner-up, his sixth, in the year’s second major.