Phil Mickelson Delivers Throwback Second Round 63

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Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson is once again at the top of the leaderboard at the Travelers Championship with a second-round 63 (Photo by: Getty Images)

Is it 2020 or the year 2000? 

 

Why is this 50-year-old, who hasn’t won a major championship since 2013, leading after 36-holes? 

 

This isn’t an ordinary veteran golfer. 

 

It’s fan-favorite Phil Mickelson, who delivered a second-round 63 at the Travelers Championship.

 

A throwback to his dominant days. 

 

 

“I’m just appreciative that we’re playing golf,” Mickelson said to reporters after his round on Friday. “It’s fun to be back competing, and I feel like the methods that we’ve done, whether it’s no fans or whether it’s face masks at times and sanitizing your hands and all these things, I feel like we’re doing it a very safe way.”

 

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Mickelson, paired with big hitters Bryson DeChambeau and World No. 1 Rory McIlroy, was the shortest of the trio. But unlike at the Genesis Open, where Mickelson tried too hard to keep up with the long hitters, he played a game that suited his style. 

 

And it worked, resulting in a seven-under round, with eight birdies on the scorecard.

 

“I ended up not playing well, and I learned from that, and I said, okay, I’m going to play this golf course a certain way,” Mickelson said. “There are some holes I can open it up and try to hit driver, but really I just want to get it in play on a lot of holes and let my wedges take over, and I’ve hit a lot of good wedge shots this week.”

 

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Mickelson ranks third in the field in strokes gained: tee to green (6.72) and eighth in strokes gained: putting (3.70). His ball-striking has put many of his drives in the fairway, setting up ideal shots to the green. Sinking birdies, including three on his last five holes, allowed Mickelson to propel up the leaderboard. 

 

“The greens don’t have a ton of break, and so there are very soft little nuances that you just have to kind of feel and sense sometimes, and I feel like I’ve been doing a good job of that,” Mickelson said. 

 

 

With inclement weather happening Saturday, the third-round groupings will be in threesomes. Playing with Mickelson is Will Gordon, a sponsor exemption for this week, who shot the low round of the day on Friday with a 62, and Canadian Mackenzie Hughes, who followed up his opening round 60 with a 68. 

 

Hughes, who sits one back of the lead, draws on his experience winning on the PGA Tour to help him going into the weekend.

 

“I kept telling myself that week that there’s no reason why I couldn’t do it, and I was going against guys that were veterans of the TOUR, and it’ll be the same this weekend with Phil and some other guys up there,” Hughes said. 

 

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Mickelson is trying to become the eighth PGA Tour player to win over 50. This is the 35th time Mickelson possesses the 36-hole lead; he has converted for the win on 18 of the previous 34 occasions. 

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