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No doubt: Mickelson upbeat after Friday 68

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AUGUSTA, Ga. – Phil Mickelson was unusually subdued earlier in the week.

Normally, during his pre-tournament news conference at the Masters, Mickelson lights up the room with humor and witty one-liners. This year, he was still thoughtful and took time to give good answers but he only cracked one joke. That was it. Something seemed noticeably different.

Perhaps it had something to do with the state of his game.

“I think I’ll be able to put some good numbers up there,” Mickelson said on Tuesday, with a hint of doubt.

In the past, Mickelson would either show up at the Masters with some sort of form knowing he was going to, at worst, be in contention over the weekend. This year, he has not played well. In fact, Mickelson really hasn’t played well since contending in the PGA Championship last August.

Lefty, however, has found something through two rounds of the Masters. The spring appears back in his step.

Mickelson followed an opening 70 with a second-round 68 Friday at Augusta National and is in sixth place, eight shots behind Jordan Spieth. Playing alongside Rory McIlroy, Mickelson made four birdies in the final eight holes and vaulted up the leaderboard.

“It was a good day,” he said.

It was a good day, but it was better for the man on top of the leaderboard. All Spieth’s pursuers know he’s going to be difficult to beat, even the pursuers with multiple green jackets.

“He was playing some of the best golf coming into this tournament, he’s playing the best golf in the tournament,” Mickelson said about Spieth. “I expect him to continue that. But you never know what’s going to happen in this golf course. If something were to happen, I want to be there, be there to take over.”