Mickelson says needs better putting to win U.S. Open

Thu Jun 12, 2014 3:29pm EDT
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By Andrew Both

PINEHURST North Carolina (Reuters) - Phil Mickelson was pleased with his long game in the opening round of the U.S. Open on Thursday, but says he needs to start making more medium-length putts to win the championship he covets over all others.

The five-times major champion needed 31 putts and three-putted once as he navigated the tricky turtle-back greens of Pinehurst's fabled No. 2 Course.

"I putted OK but didn't make any of the ones you need to make, the 15-20 footers you need to have a good round," the American told reporters after an even-par 70 at Pinehurst No. 2.

"I had a chance to get three, four, five-under today had I made some makeable opportunities. But I didn't throw anything away on the short ones."

The six-time U.S. Open runner-up, who needs to win the event to become the sixth player to complete a career grand slam of the four majors, was only two strokes from the lead with half the field back in the clubhouse.

Mickelson was generally solid with the short putts with his new "claw" grip that he began using in the final round in Memphis on Sunday.

He switched to the unconventional putting style after becoming frustrated with his putting with a conventional grip and credited caddie Jim "Bones" McKay with an assist.

"Bones noticed something, and I kind of saw it now on a replay the other day that my eye alignment has not been over the ball," Mickelson continued.   Continued...

Jun 12, 2014; Pinehurst, NC, USA;  Phil Mickelson looks on at the 14th hole during the first round of the 2014 U.S. Open golf tournament at Pinehurst Resort Country Club - #2 Course. Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports