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Despite Friday 69, struggles prevail for Lefty

U.S. Open
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GIRONA, SPAIN - APRIL 29: Pablo Larrazabbal of Spain poses during the Pro-am of the Open de Espana at the PGA Golf Catalunya on April 29, 2009 in Girona, Spain. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)  - 

BETHESDA, Md. – Two of the last three U.S. Open winners have started the tournament with a double bogey.

Although not an Open winner, Phil Mickelson did that on Thursday to start the championship en route to his 3-over 74 – a score he was mildly pleased with after flailing his ball all over the property.

Mickelson made the proper adjustments after a quick turnaround Friday, however, in shooting a 2-under 69. That’s the good news.

The bad news is he lost three shots to record-setting leader and playing partner Rory McIlroy. Mickelson’s now a dozen shots behind the 36-hole lead.

“He’s striking it flawlessly and putted great on the greens. His first two rounds were very impressive,” Mickelson said Friday of the Northern Irishman.

He conceded Thursday in playing with the leader, “The game’s easy when you hit it straight and make every putt.”

Mickelson is doing neither so far. Despite making five birdies on Friday morning, he hit 46.43 percent of fairways for two rounds and has averaged 28 putts per round on the way to his 143 total.

He dropped shots at the two toughest holes on the course – the monstrous par-4s at 11 and 18 – taking a double bogey at the last after an errant drive.

“It was a disappointing finish with that double,” Mickelson said, stating the obvious.

Then again, he finished the Memorial with a double bogey after a captivating final round at Muirfield Village. So closing has been an issue of late.

“Even though I was able to shoot under par today, I was still struggling with it,” he said.

Lefty says he has to analyze his game to figure out what he needs to fix before midday Saturday.

“Rather than go work on it, I think I’m going to try to figure out what it is I need to work on first and then get back to the range.”