Mickelson Birdies Final Hole to Tie for Open Lead

Mickelson Birdies Final Hole to Tie for Open Lead

After a frustrating 17 holes of golf, Phil Mickelson birdied the 18th hole during the second round of the U.S. Open on Friday at Merion Golf Club to tie for the lead going into the weekend at -1. 

He is tied with Billy Horschel, who hit all 18 green in regulation en route to a 3-under 67, as play was suspended due to darkness.

Mickelson birdied the toughest hole on the course after a frustrating round of golf that saw him unable to make putts within five feet after excellent irons and wedge shots. On holes where his approach shots were poor, Mickelson scrambled well enough to save pars. He started the day at -3 and salvaged a 2-over 72. 

Before the tournament, golf experts thought Merion’s course could be a joke after rain pounded the Philadelphia area and softened the greens and fairways, but that rain may have actually ensured that the leader was not at +5. The course has more than held up and, even with the softer fairways, has harshly penalized players who miss fairways. The greens have been treacherous and pin placements just as tough. 

Mickelson said he was “shut out” for 17 holes and was “just trying to make a par” on the last hole so he could go home and get some sleep. Mickelson was fortunate to be able to finish his round–he now does not have to get up at dawn to finish his second round on Saturday and can sleep until what will most likely be the last tee time of the day.

He said he “played well” and a couple of birdies would have changed the momentum of his round, but he just “didn’t capitalize on” his opportunities. 

When Mickelson wakes up on Saturday, he will be 36 holes away from winning his first U.S. Open championship. He has finished in second on five different occasions, which is a record.