June 9, 2006

Mickelson playing with one eye on US Open

By Larry Fine

HARRISON, New York (Reuters) - Phil Mickelson would like to
win the $1 million top prize at the Barclays Classic, just as
long as it does not hinder his preparation for the U.S. Open

Mickelson would love to have his cake and eat it too,
though top priority is priming himself for his assault on a
third major victory in a row at next week's U.S. Open at nearby
Winged Foot.

"What I'm trying to do is play a similar way that I would
play at the U.S. Open, not miss balls in spots where you can't
get them up-and-down," Mickelson told reporters on Friday after
his second successive round of one-under-par 70 at Westchester
Country Club.

"I've been trying to leave myself 15, 20-footers and get
the putter going. I just haven't made them yet. But it's
coming, and hopefully I should have a good round tomorrow."

Westchester has some similarities with Winged Foot, which
is just some five miles or so down the road, as a classic,
parklands layout with sloping greens.

Winged Foot, however, is much longer and more severely set
up with narrow fairways, treacherous rough and lightning-quick
greens. Mickelson has practiced on Winged Foot half a dozen
times in recent weeks and said he is more familiar with those
greens better than the ones at Westchester.

"At Winged Foot I know the breaks on the greens better.
Here I haven't practiced as much," said Mickelson, who won the
U.S. PGA Championship last August at Baltusrol and captured the
first major of 2006, the U.S. Masters.

"I would love to win this tournament. I would love to be
close to the lead but I need some more birdies.

"I certainly feel like I played a lot better today than I
did yesterday, even though the scores were the same. If I can
just get a couple of putts to fall, I think tomorrow is going
to be a good round.

"I'm really not that far back. If I can just put together
one good round of six, seven under par, I could be right up
there or near the top of the lead."