Jordan Spieth, the 19-year-old Texan, was closing in on the lead until a double bogey on the 15th, followed by two more bogeys that dropped him to a 74. That still was enough to put him in the large group at 1-over 143 that included Mickelson, Masters champion Adam Scott, Bubba Watson, Ian Poulter, Charl Schwartzel and Darren Clarke, who has all but vanished since winning the claret jug two years ago at Royal St. George’s.
Clarke had a 71 despite a quadruple-bogey.
Most players prefer a firm, fast and fiery golf course. Some of them are starting to feel burned, even Schwartzel, who had a 68.
“I don’t like it when it starts becoming that much luck, because that’s what it is,” Schwartzel said. “Because when it gets this crusty ... with 6-irons going 280 yards, how do you judge that? It becomes a bit of a lottery. You don’t know what’s going to happen.”
There were 23 players separated by only five shots going into the weekend, and 10 of them were major champions.
“I think it’s going to be a good test to be able to separate yourself if you’re playing well,” Mickelson said. “The great thing about tomorrow is that now all the players that are in contention will be on the course at the same time. And that’s going to be key.”