LUSS, Scotland (AP) — Phil Mickelson had a hole-in-one at the Scottish Open on Friday to make the cut and go into the weekend five strokes behind leader Angel Cabrera.
After missing a succession of makable putts, Mickelson’s 5-iron at his 14th hole, the 190-yard fifth, headed straight for the pin, landed 12 feet short, bounced once and rolled into the hole.
“I was struggling to get the ball in the hole with the putter so I needed to hole from off the green,” he joked, adding that he’s had 15 to 20 aces as a professional.
“I don’t remember the last one. It has been a little while.”
Mickelson shot a 4-under-par 67 for the day and picked up one stroke on Cabrera, who had a 68 for a 9-under 133.
Cabrera bogeyed two of the last four, including the 18th, where he missed the green. “That was a shame but I’m happy with my putting and my swing,” the Argentine said.
Mickelson finished his round with a birdie at the par-5 sixth hole – just missing an eagle – and also at No. 9 from 12 feet. At 4-under 138, he was two inside the 36-hole cutoff.
“Seeing that last one go in gives me a little confidence because I didn’t see any go in today. That gets me a little excited for the weekend,” the American said. “I just need to get the ball to track in on the greens.”
Cabrera led by one over Damien McGrane of Ireland, who shot 66. A group of five were two shots back, including overnight leader Thongchai Jaidee, former Open champion Paul Lawrie and Thomas Bjorn, who won this event when it was first played at Loch Loomed in 1996. Simon Khan and Richard Green were also two back.
Ernie Els also made progress, his seven birdies masking two bogeys and a weak finish in a 66.
“I’m not striking it 100 percent,” said Els, who was tied with Mickelson five strokes back. “You could see that in my finish. Missed the fairway on seven and three-putted there, then had to make great up-and-downs at 8 and 9.”
Els, like Mickelson, started at the 10th.
“There was some good stuff here and there,” Els said. “It was nice to see some putts going in because I haven’t putted very well all year.”
His 66 followed an opening 72.
“I was very frustrated yesterday when I could have been 2-under so at least I got something back today,” Els said. “I didn’t sleep great last night so today’s round was on my mind for a long time.”
The highlight was a curling 35-footer for birdie at the 2nd hole.
Before his ace, Mickelson had labored on the greens, missing from 12 feet at No. 1, 10 feet at No. 2 and six feet at No. 3 after a fine bunker shot. Then he missed from 12 again at No. 4.
“I think there’s a low round out there so if I can get a hot putter and shoot -6, -7 or -8 tomorrow, I should be right in it for Sunday,” he said.
Colin Montgomerie, the winner in 1999, missed the halfway cut for the second successive year after a 75.
“I didn’t play well enough. I didn’t hit the well enough or close enough and the chances I had just missed,” he said. “It wasn’t good enough really. It is a fine line between success and failure.”