SPRINGFIELD, N.J. - At the British Open two weeks ago, two players equaled the lowest round in a major by shooting 63s: eventual runner-up Phil Mickelson in the first round and winner Henrik Stenson to close things out.
In Friday's second round of the PGA Championship at Baltusrol, Robert Streb joined the club.
On Saturday, Mickelson, who won the PGA here in 2005, was one of 37 golfers who finished their third round. Ten never made it to the first tee before the nasty weather arrived. Lefty carded a 2-under-par 68 that left him at 1-under for the tournament, tied for 42nd.
Then he predicted there would be a new 18-hole scoring record before this major is over, whenever that might be.
"The golf course is susceptible," said Mickelson, whose putt on 18 for a 62 at Royal Troon lipped out. "There is a low-60s round [possible]. I think somebody is going to break that 63 [barrier] in the next two days. The greens are pristine. You can make a lot of putts. They are soft, so you can get the ball very close. I think that there's a 61 or 62 out there that I was probably trying to chase a little too hard.
"I would be surprised if it [didn't happen]. The course is playing to where you can fly 6-, 7-, 8-irons at the hole, [and] it's going to stop right there. The challenge of Baltusrol is the greens, and when they are [vulnerable], the difficulty is negated. All that extra roll and runoff is not coming into play. Just a lot of birdie holes [now].
"I've been shooting such low scores in preparation that I thought I was going to come out and light this thing up. I started steering it. I started losing some of the feel with the swing."
Mickelson, who opened the second round with a triple bogey, started with a bogey this time. He made four birdies and another bogey the rest of the way. He's not going to be a factor Sunday, but the crowds still yell out his name like he's in front by double digits. And he appreciates all the love.
"I don't know how to explain the incredible feeling it is to play here in this area," he said. "To have the people be as supportive and as kind and as loyal as they've been to me and my family over the years, it's my favorite place to play.
"When things aren't going well, they get me back on track and give me that little extra energy boost. When things are going well, they push me to even greater heights. I wish I had been playing well. Getting in contention, [the reaction is] really something to behold. Even though it's not happening this week, when we come back for Barclays at Bethpage Black [in the FedEx Cup playoffs] I'm hopeful to put it all together there. . . .
"I was excited where my game was at. I just think that my expectations had grown. I put a little too much pressure on myself and forced the issue rather than letting it happen the way I did [in Scotland]."