Defending Open champ Mickelson bounces back with 2-under 70

Phil Mickelson
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Disappointed with a 2-over 74 on Thursday, defending Open Champion Phil Mickelson was four shots better at Royal Liverpool on Friday and will enter the weekend at even par.
By T.J. Auclair
PGA.com
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Series: Golf Buzz

Published: Friday, July 18, 2014 | 9:19 a.m.

Listening to Phil Mickelson following an opening-round, 2-over 74 on Thursday in the first round of the Open Championship, you could tell he was a frustrated man.

That score, the defending Open Champion insisted, was not indicative of how well he struck the ball. He just couldn't get the putts to drop.

MORE: Open leaderboard | Friday's Open Championship photos | Complete coverage

In a difficult, stiff wind on Friday, Mickelson was four shots better with an impressive 2-under 70 that pulled him to even par for the tournament with 36 holes to go.

If the wind hangs around at Royal Liverpool the rest of the day -- and it looks like it will -- there's a chance Mickelson could be within a handful of the lead at day's end. South Africa's George Coetzee shot an early 69 and has the early clubhouse lead at 5 under.

Friday's round was a move in the right direction for Mickelson, who is still looking for his first top-10 finish on the PGA Tour this season.

Mickelson responded to an early bogey on No. 3 with a birdie at No. 4 and an eagle on No. 5. He bogeyed No. 8 and made the turn at 1-under 34.

His inward nine was made up of a string of eight consecutive pars before a closing birdie.

T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for PGA.com and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair.