By Tony Jimenez
HOYLAKE England (Reuters) - Phil Mickelson tried to accentuate the positives despite a chequered British Open second round on Friday that featured "a terrible putt," a "couple of loose shots" and a lost ball.
The defending champion is safely through to the weekend on level-par 144 although his two-under round of 70 was something of a curate's egg of a performance - good in parts, horrible in others.
"I played really well today but there were a couple of loose shots," Mickelson told reporters on a boiling hot day at Royal Liverpool. "I ended up giving four or five shots away.
The long 10th hole summed up the American left-hander's display as he lost his ball off the tee before striking a sumptuous fourth to six feet to salvage his par five.
Mickelson conjured another brilliant stroke at the 17th but failed to take advantage on the green.
"I hit such a great shot to that pin," he explained. "I had to hook a five-iron into a direct slice wind, ran it to four feet and hit a terrible putt."
The five-times major winner said the weather conditions would now dictate if he still had a chance to make a successful defense of his title.
"I wanted to get to level-par so that putt on 18 was big," added Mickelson after ending his round with a birdie four.
"If the wind stays up I'm still in the tournament but I have a feeling the conditions will be softer this afternoon and if that's the case I will be a long way back."
The forecast is not good for Saturday and that is when Mickelson fancies his chances of climbing the leaderboard.
"There are going to be a lot of scores of five, six and seven over par," he said. "If I can shoot something under par I'll be right in it for Sunday."
Mickelson said he tried to provide some comfort to playing partner Ernie Els when the South African drove his tee shot into the face of a spectator in Thursday's first round and left him covered in blood.
"I tried to say, 'Look you can't worry about that...I do that all the time'," he added to roars of laughter.
"But it didn't help I guess."
Double British Open champion Els was unable to rally from the first-hole calamity, ballooning to rounds of 79 and 73 to miss the cut.
(Editing by Tony Goodsonx)
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