Friday, June 10, 2016

Mickelson plays his way into Memphis contention ahead of U.S. Open

Phil Mickelson hasn't won on the PGA Tour since capturing his fifth major at the 2013 British Open. Almost three years later, on the eve of the U.S. Open, the only major he hasn't won, Mickelson is in position to end that skid.

Mickelson trails Daniel Berger by four shots heading into the weekend at the FedEx St. Jude Classic. However, that's good enough to be tied for third place at 5-under 135.

The difference for Mickelson so far this week has been his putting. 

“I've been striking the ball very well coming into this week even though the first two days weren't my best,” said Mickelson, who shot 5-under 65 on Friday to jump into contention after a mediocre first-round 70.

“To have the putter back and to be putting the way I am, if I can hit it the way I've been hitting it all year I should have a very good opportunity this weekend.”

Of course, the timing is good, too. Mickelson likes to play the week before a major to get the competitive juices flowing. Getting in contention will do just that. A win, one that would end a long skid, would be a bonus.

"I'm very excited that I'm in contention, that I have a good opportunity heading into the weekend. I get to feel the pressure and excitement of having a chance to win, especially a week before the U.S. Open," Mickelson said.

However, Mickelson knows that if he'll overcome the top-heavy leaderboard, with the likes of Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Berger, he's going to have to play better from tee-to-green.

"I do have some work the to do. I hit a lot of good shots but I hit a lot of bad shots and I've got my [teacher] here, Andrew Getson," Mickelson said. "We had a little work this morning and get at it this afternoon and hopefully for the weekend I'll get it dialed in."

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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