Mickelson targets second place

Phil Mickelson managed to see the comical side of his US Open quest as he targets what could be another second place finish at Pinehurst.

Mickelson was one shot off the clubhouse lead when he finished his third round, but knows that his chances of winning the major were remote.

“If I play well tomorrow, if I hit it better and make some putts, I think I can shoot four or five under, end around even par and finish second again,” Mickelson quipped after his round of 72 that featured three bogeys and just one birdie.

“I’ll play a good solid round tomorrow, not really worry about the results and see if I can finish the year strong.”

One of the reasons for Mickelson’s relaxed attitude to the tournament he so desperately wants to win was the ongoing performance of Germany’s Martin Kaymer, who took a record-equalling lead into the third round.

Successive rounds of 65 meant Kaymer had equalled the lowest halfway total in major championship history (130), as well as eclipsing the US Open record of 131 set by Rory McIlroy at Congressional in 2011.

The 29-year-old’s six-shot advantage over American Brendon Todd also matched the championship record shared by Tiger Woods (2000) and McIlroy (2011), but tournament officials were doing their best to get Kaymer to come back to the pack.

Meanwhile, speaking after a round of 74, veteran American Kenny Perry said: “It was a golf course of 18 of the toughest pins I’ve ever seen. It was probably the hardest set-up I’ve ever experienced in a major championship.”

Those sentiments were borne out by some of the early completed scores which saw Boo Weekley shoot 80, Russell Henley 82 and Japan’s Toru Taniguchi an 18-over-par 88 which contained six pars, seven bogeys, four double bogeys and a triple bogey.

England’s Matt Fitzpatrick, the only amateur to make the cut in his last tournament before turning professional, came to the 18th needing a par to break 80 but managed one better, holing from 10 feet for birdie to complete a 78.

“I didn’t play particularly well, but at the same time I never felt like anything went for me. I felt I was quite unlucky,” said the 19-year-old from Sheffield, who will make his professional debut in the Irish Open next week.

“I think it’s the most relaxed I felt on the course, so you would expect the golf to be all right, but it was just one of those days.

“A couple of tees are forward but the ones that are forward don’t really make too much difference, but there’s a few that are back and they make a big difference.

“I probably played similar to yesterday and the day before, I didn’t hole any putts of any sort apart from on the last.”