Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Phil Mickelson keeps lead at British Open

TROON, Scotland — Phil Mickelson had nearly everything going his way in the first two rounds of the British Open.

He had control of his shots and the flight of his ball in the wind and rain. He had the lowest 36-hole total at Royal Troon. He even caught a break with the weather, his black rain suit coming in handy only over his final 10 holes Friday.

The only thing he couldn't do was shake Henrik Stenson.

Mickelson did his part in wind and rain that was coming and going all during the second round. He followed his record-tying 63 of the first round with four more birdies in a round of 2-under 69, and he stretched his lead to as many as five shots until making his first bogey of the British Open on his 30th hole.

He was at 10-under 132, one better than the previous record 36-hole score at Royal Troon, held by Darren Clarke (1997) and Bobby Clampett (1982). In his 21 British Opens, this is the first time Mickelson started with two rounds in the 60s, and he had his lowest 36-hole British Open total. He also matched his best 36-hole total in a major (the others were at the 2001 and 2005 PGA Championships).

"I thought it was a good round to back up the low round (Thursday)," Mickelson said. "I played kind of stress-free golf again. I made one or two bad swings that led to bogeys. But for the most part, kept the ball in play."

He was one shot ahead of Stenson, who picked up three quick birdies before the rain showed up, and he got a few more during lulls in the weather. He shot 65, his best score in the British Open and tied for his lowest career round at a major (first round at last year's U.S. Open at Chambers Bay).

"I was five back of Phil from (Thursday), so of course I was hoping to gain a little," Stenson said. "And the way it turned out, I gained quite a lot. It's still early in the tournament, though. We're only halfway through. But so far, so good. I'm happy with the way I played the course. It's not easy out there."

The nature of links golf, and this championship, is getting the good side of the tee times. For those who teed off Friday morning, the stormy weather hung off in the distance, giving them a chance to put up some low numbers before things turned nasty. For those going off later in the day, well, there wasn't much to do except try to limit the damage.

The top 14 on the leaderboard all played in the morning. The top five — Mickelson, Stenson, Soren Kjeldsen (68), Keegan Bradley (68) and Zach Johnson (70) — teed off within 2 hours, 6 minutes of each other.

Of the 20 players who broke par, all but four went off in the morning and at least had a stretch of decent weather.

Mickelson, who won the British Open at Muirfield in 2013, was plenty damp after the round but managed to avoid any significant trouble during play. Known earlier in his career for his freewheeling approach on the course, he has wised up significantly. On Friday he often used irons or a lofted wood instead of his driver off the tee, minimizing his risk of trickling into one of Troon's diabolical pot bunkers.

At 46, Mickelson has a chance to become the second-oldest British Open champion, behind Old Tom Morris in 1867.

"I don't feel the pressure like probably a lot of players do to try to win the (British Open) because I've already won it," he said. "I would love to add to it, but having already done that was big."

A win also would make Mickelson the seventh consecutive American to win the British Open at Troon. On Thursday, he speculated that the golf gods might have conspired to keep his putt on No. 18 for 62 out of the hole. On Friday, he cited the deities when asked to explain the American dominance at Troon.

"I think … that's probably due to the gods," he said, "and I would expect them to be consistent."

The Golf Channel and ESPN contributed to this report.

Phil Mickelson keeps lead at British Open 07/15/16 [Last modified: Friday, July 15, 2016 11:21pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. FSU-Bama 'almost feels like a national championship game Week 1'

    Blogs

    The buzz is continuing to build for next Saturday's blockbuster showdown between No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Florida State.

  2. Tampa lawyer Fred Ridley to be new chairman of Augusta National, Masters' home (w/ video)

    Golf

    AUGUSTA, Ga. — Fred Ridley first came to Augusta National to compete in the 1976 Masters as the U.S. Amateur champion, and he played the opening round in the traditional pairing with the defending champion, Jack Nicklaus.

  3. Rays send down Chase Whitley, Andrew Kittredge; add Chih-Wei Hu, activate Alex Cobb

    Blogs

    After having to cover more than five innings following a short start by Austin Pruitt, the Rays shuffled their bullpen following Wednesday's game, sending down RHPs Chase Whitley and Andrew Kittredge,

    The Kittredge move was expected, as he was summoned to add depth to the pen Wednesday in advance of RHP Alex …

  4. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred moves closer to wanting a decision on Rays stadium

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred called Wednesday for urgency from Tampa Bay area government leaders to prioritize and move quicker on plans for a new Rays stadium.

    MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred talks with reporters at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017.
  5. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Blue Jays game

    The Heater

    The Austin Pruitt experiment might be over, or at least put on pause. After allowing six runs over seven innings to Seattle on Friday, the rookie didn't get through the fourth Wednesday, giving up five runs on four homers. His ERA for past six starts: 5.29.