Mickelson three behind McIlroy, eyeing sixth major


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Phil Mickelson said for most of the summer that he was close to playing his best golf even though his results said otherwise.

Last week, following a third-round 69 at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational on a day when others were shooting much lower scores, Mickelson said he was at a loss. He had no clue why he wasn’t playing better.

The next day he shot 62 and declared himself ready to contend at the PGA Championship. That’s Phil in a nutshell. You never know what you’re going to get.

Mickelson shot a second consecutive 67 on Saturday to sneak within three shots of Rory McIlroy heading into the final round. He’s searching for his second PGA title and his sixth career major championship, a number that would match Lee Trevino and Nick Faldo.

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“It’s so fun for me to be back in the thick of it, have a chance, being in contention heading into Sunday and not having to get up at 6 o’clock in the morning to tee off, if I get to tee off,” Mickelson said. “So it’s been a nice change.”

When Mickelson made his second birdie of the day on the par-5 seventh hole, he pulled within two shots of the lead and had the gallery frenzied. Consecutive bogeys on Nos. 11-12 deflated his momentum, but he birdied four of the last five holes to cap off his round in dramatic fashion.

“I need to play aggressive and make some confident swings early on and make some birdies,” he said. “I’m going to be trying to make up ground on some guys that are playing really good golf and will be making birdies tomorrow. So I’ll have to make a lot of them.”