Mickelson Makes Masters Move Before Weather Halts Play

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Phil Mickelson apparently remembers his way around Augusta National just fine.

Now, the question is whether he remembers how to win.

After a self-imposed exile from the Masters a year ago, the three-time champion followed his opening 71 with a 3-under 69 on Friday before play was suspended by storms. The 52-year-old Mickelson heads into the weekend within striking distance of leader Brooks Koepka.

“I actually did not hit it anywhere near as well as I did yesterday but I scored well. I got it up and down, made a lot of good putts,” Mickelson said. “I’m actually looking forward to the weekend. I know I’ve been hitting it, playing better than I’ve been scoring, and I’m looking forward to just putting one round together that I know I’m capable of.”

Mickelson missed the Masters last year after some remarks about those involved in LIV Golf, the Saudi-backed breakaway circuit, which proceeded to give him a huge signing bonus to defect from the PGA Tour. His play hasn’t been particularly good, though, and he had broken 70 just twice in nine rounds across three events this season.

“Who knows when it will click? It could click tomorrow. I don’t know,” Mickelson said. “Part of it is just slowing my mind down and letting it happen and then it clicks. But that’s kind of the biggest challenge in the game is not forcing it.”

Mickelson said his game has been close, and perhaps returning to Augusta was the final piece in making things click.

“This tournament, this course gives something for everybody to aspire to,” he said. “If you’re that kid and you’re dreaming of playing in the Masters and you want to win it, it gives you something to aspire to. It did for me.”