SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. — Phil Mickelson is a talker. So when he seemingly ducked the press after his lackluster 77 Thursday at Shinnecock Hills, reporters took note.
According to Mickelson, though, he wasn’t being evasive. At least not intentionally.
“Nobody asked me to come here. I would have been happy to come,” he said of the post-round interview area near the practice range. “Some people thought I was not talking. I’m happy to talk, but you got to ask. I’m not going to hunt you down.”
Mickelson bounced back Friday with a one-under 69 but has work to do. At six over for the championship, he is a distant 10 strokes behind the leader, Dustin Johnson. On Friday evening, Mickelson was in good spirits and characteristically optimtistic about his chances. “I think there’s a four, five, six under par round there,” he said of Saturday morning, which is forecast to be sunny and relatively calm. “If I can shoot that or anybody who just made the cut, I think there’s potential.”
After a few more remarks, Mickelson stepped down off the podium and weaved his way through a scrum of reporters.
As he walked away, a wry grin broke out on his face. “Like I said,” he said, “I wasn’t stiffing anybody. I love talking to you guys. I just love it.”
Then he disappeared under a tree and was gone.