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''Mickelslam'' still on the cards at US Open

Written by: Staff

MAMARONECK, New York, June 17 (Reuters) The Phil Mickelson-Tiger Woods US Open showdown fizzled in dramatic fashion as the lefthander remained on course for a third consecutive major and the world number one made an historic exit.

For the first time since Woods began his dominant run in late 1999, the 10-times major winner appeared to have found a consistent challenger at the game's highest level in Mickelson, who arrived at Winged Foot Golf Club pursuing a rare treble.

With Mickelson bidding to join Woods as the only player since Bobby Jones to claim three consecutive major titles, the US Open was expected to provide the battle ground for one of the most memorable championships in recent history.

But while the US Open may yet produce a 'Mickelslam', Woods will not be involved after failing to make the cut at a major championship yesterday the first time since turning professional.

''It's not something I've been thinking much about (winning three straight majors),'' Mickelson told reporters. ''I've been trying to focus on this one tournament and it's nice that I'm in that position.

NO ENERGY ''I just don't have the energy to let my mind wander.

''I've got a lot of work to do the next two days.'' The Masters champion got his day off to a stumbling start with bogeys on his opening two holes and finished it with another at the last.

But having escaped relatively unscathed with rounds of even-par 70 and three-over 73 on a punishing Winged Foot layout, Mickelson heads into the weekend believing he is well positioned to add another major to his trophy case.

''Even though I walked off with a bogey, I walked off on a high note because it could have been a big number,'' assured Mickelson.

''Bogeys are OK.

''I just had to prevent the double, the big mistakes.

''I was able to get it up and down, walk off 18 and feel good about it.

''It's a tough day. I hit a lot of good shots and still came in at three-over.

''Obviously everyone wants to be better but I'm within four with two rounds to go and I'm where I wanted to be.

''All I can ask for is a chance with two rounds to go. It's going to take some good golf but I just love the fact I have a chance.'' REUTERS DH RAI0708

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