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Scotty is still looking up

World number one's relief after strong finish keeps him in contention

By Andy Hampson

World number one Adam Scott expressed his relief after finishing his second round with back-to-back birdies to retain a presence on the Open Championship leaderboard.

The Australian, who began the day four under par, dropped back a stroke after shooting 73 on day two at Royal Liverpool.

The picture might have looked worse for 'Scotty' had he not holed from 25 feet for a three at the 17th and then two-putted from off the green to gain another shot at the last.

Scott said: "There were some ups and downs but it was really, really important to finish with a couple of birdies to put me in good shape for the weekend.

"They (birdies) all count the same, but it was a good time. Lunch will taste a lot better.

"If the wind stays up I shouldn't be too far back."

Scott's round started badly with bogey fives at the second and third holes. He birdied the fifth to repair some of the damage but there were further bogeys on 12 and 13 before his strong finish.

Scott, who teed off at 9.26am alongside Justin Rose and Jason Dufner, felt his position should have been better but did think increased winds made conditions tougher than on the opening day.

He said: "I could have been better today. I played really well, but didn't take advantage of my good shots and compounded that with some errors from the middle of the fairway.

"It's one thing if you're in trouble to make a bogey but when you're in the middle of the fairway you don't want to make a bogey, and I had a couple of them on the back nine. I hit the skids and had to scramble coming in.

"But today was much tougher out there, just the slight direction change and the gusts."

Phil Mickelson, meanwhile, admits his Open victory at Muirfield last year has made him more accepting of the vagaries of links golf.

Mickelson carded a second round of 70 at Royal Liverpool yesterday for a halfway total of level par, despite seeming to have played in the worst of the conditions each day.

"If the wind stays up, absolutely I am (still in the tournament)," Mickelson said.

"Tomorrow when the conditions come in (rain is forecast), there's going to be a lot of scores that go five, six, seven over par. If I can shoot something under par, I'll be right in it for Sunday."

Mickelson's win at Muirfield came in his 20th appearance in the Open and leaves him just needing to win the US Open to complete a career grand slam.

"It takes pressure off. You don't feel the pressure of trying to force a win," the 44-year-old added. "Also I'm more accepting of the fact that I'm on the poor end of the tee times. I've also been on the good end of the tee times and you accept that as part of the tournament.

"The tendency is I see the scores and seven, eight under par is probably going to be leading or so and I have to force birdies. But the conditions I had didn't allow for it.

"I have to play as well as I can with the conditions that I'm in. If even par is the best I can do, that's all I can do. Now I might be seven or eight back, but I can't control that. If I try to force it, I'm missing the cut."

Mickelson carded two bogeys, an eagle from six feet on the fifth and two birdies, one of which came from a brilliant second shot to within inches of the hole on the fourth.

What was not so brilliant however, was the fact that the five-time major winner failed to shout fore as his drive on that hole was heading into the crowd.

"You can't hear it anyway," Mickelson said. "You can't hear it 20 yards up the fairway. The wind is in your ear. You point and try to get people aware, but you can't hear that far up with the wind.

"It didn't (hit anyone) and I ended up getting a very lucky break, because I was in a hard area and I was able to get some spin. There were some really bad spots over there and I was lucky not to find them."

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