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Phil Mickelson builds momentum for U.S. Open

June 10, 2013|By David Wharton
  • Phil Mickelson will be looking for his first win in a major since 2010 at this week's U.S. Open.
Phil Mickelson will be looking for his first win in a major since 2010 at this… (Rogelio V. Solis / Associated…)

Phil Mickelson did not get a victory at the St. Jude Classic in Memphis this past weekend, but he achieved something almost as good.

Charging up the leaderboard, and falling just two strokes short of winner Harris English, Lefty gained some much-needed confidence going into the U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa.

"It was an encouraging week," he said. "I felt like I progressed and got better each day."

Many top players chose to take the week off, but not Mickelson, who has finished near the top of several U.S. Opens but has not finished first at a major since the 2010 Masters. His game looked a little ragged in the first round at St. Jude, then rounded into shape.

His improved iron play and a steady 3-wood could be useful.

"Next week at Merion, distance won't be as critical as TPC Southwind," he said. "I'l be able to hit higher and softer shots."

Mickelson also liked the mental aspect of being in contention -- and feeling nervous -- down the back nine. After birdies on Nos. 13 and 16, he went for the flag at 18 and just missed, leaving himself a short birdie putt.

"So to have that feeling to be able to pull off the shot on 18 when I needed it to have any kind of chance ... is very important heading into next week's Open," he said.

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