Ballstriking helps Phil Mickelson climb leaderboard at Scottish Open

Ballstriking helps Phil Mickelson climb leaderboard at Scottish Open

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Ballstriking helps Phil Mickelson climb leaderboard at Scottish Open

GULLANE, Scotland – Phil Mickelson came to Scotland with a plan: Confirm that his swing is in good shape and work on his putting so that he’s in fighting form for next week’s British Open at the Old Course at St. Andrews.

He accomplished the first goal, striking the ball well on the way to a 2-under 68 in Friday’s second round of the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open and securing his spot for another two days around the Championship Course at Gullane.

“I was pleased with the way the entire day was, ballstriking-wise,” Mickelson said. “For me to make the cut the way I putted the first two days is surprising. I feel really good about some of the things I’ve been working on in my golf swing. The last piece will be the putter. I don’t want to worry about that right now.”

Mickelson averaged 29 putts in the first two rounds and hit 70 percent of greens in regulation. On Friday, Lefty managed to hit 78 percent of greens, and that control was what pleased him after a round that got a little scratchy in the middle. Still, he pulled it together for a solid finish.

Mickelson started the day at 1 under and already was in danger of missing the cut. After an early birdie moved him to 2 under and above the cutline, Mickelson recorded eight consecutive pars before his fate took a turn for the worse with consecutive bogeys starting on the 12th hole. That dropped the 2013 Scottish Open champion below the magic line to play on the weekend.

What came next was a typical Mickelson reversal. He recorded three consecutive birdies – which ended with a tap-in birdie on the par-5 16th – to finish the run and move from 1 over to 2 under, which left him in 33rd. Mickelson was six shots off the lead shared by Englishman Justin Rose, Ireland’s Shane Lowry and Sweden’s Johan Carlsson at 8 under midway through the round.

“I feel like I’ve kind of made a turn here in the last few weeks with my ballstriking; been very pleased with it,” said Mickelson, who worked with instructor Butch Harmon after struggling to a tie for 64th on June 21 in the U.S. Open. “Now I’ve got to focus in on the putter. I haven’t gotten the ball started online very well certainly these couple of days, and probably the last month or so. That’s a much easier fix than the golf swing.”

Before he works on his putting, Mickelson plans to visit nearby Muirfield, where he won the Claret Jug two years ago.

“I’ll either go this afternoon or tomorrow afternoon or both,” he said, adding that does not intend to play.

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