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Phil Mickelson's long game was sharper than his short game on the few holes he played Saturday. (Cannon/Getty Images)

Mickelson misses precious early third-round opportunities

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Phil Mickelson got off to a great start Saturday, at least off the tee. But he couldn't convert some excellent chances to move up the scoreboard before the rain delay. 

BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - Phil Mickelson wasn't the best lefty in his twosome.

Steve Flesch was 2 under through five holes, and moved into a tie for fifth at 1 over on Saturday when thunderstorms forced suspension of play for the day at the U.S. PGA Championship.

Mickelson was even par through the same stretch and remained at 3 over, four shots behind second-round leader J.B. Holmes.

"I don't know if either one of us has a lot to be proud of today," Flesch said. "I think both of us will be looking to get some momentum in the morning, hoping it will carry us through on what's going to be a long day."

The suspension meant the two left-handers faced 31 holes on Sunday.

Mickelson is in the midst of his longest period with one top-10 finish at a major, going nine starts with only a tie for fifth in April at the Masters.

"Lefty" shed the label of being the best player without a major championship in 2004 at Augusta, won the PGA Championship in 2005 and earned another green jacket in 2006.

Mickelson was tied for 18th and 19th in the U.S. Open and British Open, respectively, this year. He missed two cuts at majors last season, finishing no better than 24th, and finished outside of the top 15 in the final two majors of 2006.

The world's second-ranked player got off to a great start on Saturday with a drive that landed in the fairway, just 72 yards from the green at the 435-yard first hole.

But Mickelson didn't take advantage, finessing an approach that went in a bunker short. He came up short again but had a good chip out of the rough on the short side of the green to set up a short putt for bogey.

Mickelson drove down the middle of the fairway on No. 5 and hit a beautiful shot that trickled toward the cup and left him with about a 5-foot birdie putt. But he barely caught the left side of the cup. After tapping in for par, he shook his head as he walked off the green.

Mickelson gave himself a chance, though, to make up ground with an 8-foot eagle putt at No. 6 only to have the horn blow. He marked his ball and took a look at the line he'd have before getting in an SUV to evacuate the course.

It took 17 minutes to get Mickelson and Flesch back to the clubhouse as a caravan slowly made its way from the far end of the course to the clubhouse.

After a 4-hour delay, Mickelson left the course without talking to reporters.

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