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Terrible, awful, jumpy Mickelson still dreaming of victory

Golf - British Open - Phil Mickelson of the U.S. reacts after a bogey putt on the 14th hole during the third round - Royal Troon, Scotland, Britain - 16/07/2016. REUTERS/Paul Childs
Golf - British Open - Phil Mickelson of the U.S. reacts after a bogey putt on the 14th hole during the third round - Royal Troon, Scotland, Britain - 16/07/2016. REUTERS/Paul Childs

By Tony Jimenez

TROON, Scotland (Reuters) - Phil Mickelson is still dreaming of becoming the oldest winner of the British Open in the modern era despite describing his third-round performance as "terrible", "awful" and "jumpy" on Saturday.

The 46-year-old American started the day at the top of the leaderboard with a one-stroke advantage over playing partner Henrik Stenson but ended it one behind the Swede after returning a one-under 70 for an 11-under aggregate of 202.

"The game of golf, it just comes and goes," Mickelson told reporters after another windswept day on the rugged links of Royal Troon. "Some days it's easy and it looks pretty... some days it's hard and it looks terrible.

"I was off today, I didn't have my best stuff. I was a little bit jumpy and my rhythm wasn't very good."

Mickelson, aiming to become the oldest Open champion since Tom Morris senior won at the age of 46 in 1867, illustrated what he meant by offering a wayward two-iron off the tee at the 12th that finished just short of a gorse bush as an example of his in-and-out display.

"I got lucky the ball didn't go in the gorse," he said. "I've been hitting the two-iron extremely straight... and I hit an awful shot there.

"It was a day when I tried to force it a little bit on the front nine. I got out of rhythm and it was tough to get back but I found a way to make a few good shots on the back nine to shoot even-par on a very difficult nine holes of golf."

Mickelson and Stenson's head-to-head duel on Saturday had millions of viewers watching on television around the world enthralled as the leadership changed hands throughout.

The constant to-ing and fro-ing evoked memories of that special day at the 1977 Turnberry Open when Tom Watson edged out Jack Nicklaus in the so-called 'Duel in the Sun'.

Despite the fact that third-placed American Bill Haas is five shots adrift of Mickelson and six behind Stenson, the left-hander does not believe Sunday's closing round will turn into a match play situation between the top two.

"No, not at all, no," he said. "I don't see that."

(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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