Lower than 24 hours after being cruelly denied a spot within the report books, former champion Phil Mickelson made historical past to assert the midway lead within the 145th Open Championship.
Mickelson added a second spherical of 69 to his opening 63 at Royal Troon for a 10-under-par complete of 132, one shot decrease than the earlier finest on the Ayrshire venue set by American Bobby Clampett in 1982 and equalled by Darren Clarke in 1997.
And though that was solely ok for a one-shot lead over Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, Mickelson shall be hoping of a repeat of the end result at Muirfield in 2013, when he claimed his fifth main title as Stenson completed runner-up.
“We’re only halfway done with the tournament so it’s too far off to start thinking like that, but certainly there is nothing more than I would love to add another Claret Jug,” stated the 46-year-old, who would develop into the fourth oldest winner of any main and the oldest within the Open since 1867.
“I feel there’s lots of strain off me given the truth that I’ve already bought one.
“The opposite factor is that from 10 years in the past, after I was enjoying my finest golf, I am 25 kilos lighter, I am in higher form, I am bodily stronger than I used to be. I really feel higher and now that my swing is again on airplane, I am beginning to hit some photographs like I did 10 years in the past and beginning to play a few of my finest golf once more.
“So I don’t see why there’s any reason why I can’t continue that, not just this week, but for years. That’s kind of what the game plan is.”
Mickelson had come agonisingly shut to creating historical past on day one, his birdie putt on the 18th to report the primary 62 in any main championship catching the sting of the cup and staying out.
The ensuing 63 was the 28th such rating in majors and the primary within the Open since Rory McIlroy’s opening spherical at St Andrews in 2010, which the Northern Irishman famously adopted with an 80 in winds gusting as much as 40 miles per hour which pressured play to be suspended.
Nevertheless, Mickelson was by no means in peril of struggling such a destiny as a testing early breeze swiftly died and allowed him to increase his in a single day result in 5 photographs with birdies on the fourth, seventh and eighth, the latter coming after his tee shot on the ‘Postage Stamp’ span again to inside inches of the opening.
“That was really a salty little shot,” defined Mickelson, who wore a black all-weather glove on every hand to fight the intermittent downpours.
“I had a sand wedge and drove it back there to try and skid it back to the hole and you can see the delayed juice kick in.”
Wayward drives on the 12th and 15th led to Mickelson’s first bogeys of the championship and meant Stenson closed the hole to a single stroke because of an excellent 65, his lowest rating within the Open by two photographs.
“I haven’t been in contention for the last six majors and it was a big, big goal of mine to try and be up there and give myself a chance. So far, so good,” the 40-year-old stated.
“I’m not going to play these tournaments forever and ever. I don’t have another 50 goes at them. It might be a dozen or 15 in total so I better start putting myself in position and giving myself chances if I want to make it happen.”
Keegan Bradley famously gained the 2011 US PGA Championship on his first look in a serious and partnered Mickelson to 4 wins from 5 Ryder Cup matches in 2012 and 2014.
However after arriving in Scotland ranked 120th on this planet, the 30-year-old determined the easiest way to get his title on the leaderboard was to place it there himself on Monday night.
”I really snuck up on the leaderboard on 18 with a few guys and we put our names up,” Bradley revealed after a 68 left him three off the lead alongside Denmark’s Soren Kjeldsen.
”I am most likely going to get in hassle for that and doubtless should not have stated it. However it’s enjoyable to see my title up there subsequent to Phil’s now. It is simply superior.
“Because everyone’s wondering, I always get the question, ‘What’s wrong with you or something?’ And there’s nothing wrong. I’m just working. It may not happen this week but I know it’s going to. It’s feeling good.”
Defending champion Zach Johnson dropped two photographs within the final 4 holes to complete 5 off the lead, a shot forward of a five-strong group containing England’s Andrew Johnston and Spain’s Sergio Garcia.