Mickelson gets big cheers when weather clears at US Open
Mother Nature must be a Phil Mickelson fan because just about everyone else is at the US Open.
Thousands of cheering US Open supporters shouted their support for the 39-year-old American left-hander along Bethpage Black during the second round that concluded Saturday with Mickelson on one-under par 139 after a par 70.
While Mickelson was seven strokes off the pace of countryman Ricky Barnes, "Lefty" was confident that he would be in the hunt if he could hold his position relative to par, a greater concern than where his rivals stood.
"I like the position I'm in," Mickelson said. "Around par is a good score. It's only a birdie here or there that gets me right back in it, so I'm not really worried about other players as much as I am keeping myself under par.
"I don't really look too much in the US Open relative to what other players are doing because it's just too easy for guys to make mistakes. Once you start coming back you just come all the way back."
Mickelson also has enjoyed playing in a half of the draw that enjoyed ideal scoring conditions in good weather for 36 holes while the other 78 players were drenched in a Thursday torrent and facing another afternoon deluge Saturday.
"We had a great end of the draw and the weather this morning was great," Mickelson said. "I can't believe a storm is coming in. Conditions right now couldn't be better."
Fate, or the luck of the draw, was playing a helping hand for Mickelson in his final tournament before leaving the tour to be with wife Amy as she faces breast cancer surgery early next month and subsequent treatments.
Having fought through the tears, Mickelson hopes to bring home the trophy that Amy said she wants to see in her hosptial room, one Mickelson has never won even though he has finished second a record four times.
Hearing the cheers warms his soul even as Bethpage Black takes its toll.
"It's hard to miss. It's not like they whisper. But it's very flattering and it's very cool," Mickelson said. "It has been amazing. I love playing in front of these people. They are some of the best sports fans in the country."
Mickelson was one-under overall through 11 holes of the second round when darkness fell Friday. He made bogey at the par-5 13th and birdie at the par-3 17th for the second round in a row.
"The big thing for me was I struggled with the putter the first round and a half and I started to turn it around there in the end and make some and feel good with it," Mickelson said.
"I've hit the ball very well the first two rounds, hit a lot of mid-irons that have been close. I've given myself a lot of birdie opportunities. If I can get hot with the putter, I like my chances in the next two rounds."
Storms could push the finish of 72 holes into Monday for only the second time in US Open history but Mickelson will not miss out on the tropical vacation he has planned with Amy after the tournament.
"I won't have much turnover time as soon as I get home but that's fine," he said. "We're still going to go."