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“I managed to two-putt it, so I’m over the moon,” Poulter said.

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MICKELSON BACKS OFF: A day after he took British Open organizers to task for the setup at Muirfield, Phil Mickelson had a change of heart.

That came despite shooting a 74 that included a four-putt on the 16th hole, where Mickelson took three putts from inside 4 feet.

“When I made those comments yesterday, I wasn’t being totally fair to the R&A because they’ve done a lot of things great this championship,” Mickelson said. “The fairway width is a very fair width to get the ball in play. The rough is difficult and challenging, but it’s not over the top. It’s very fair in spots.”

Mickelson said a day earlier that some of the greens were unfair because of the speed of the course and the pin positions.

“For me to single out just a few sketchy pin placements and not give them credit for all the good things they’ve done was not fair,” he said.

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EDGY ERNIE: The only thing defending champion Ernie Els liked less that his round of 74 was having to talk about it afterward.

Asked to talk about the conditions at Muirfield, Els said: “I don’t need to be here. Ask your question.”

After saying two greens on the back nine had dried out so badly they bordered on unplayable, Els was asked what he thought the setup crew from the Royal & Ancient should do about them.

“Water,” he replied.

Grumpy as he appeared, at least Els didn’t curse at the reporter like he did to another last month at the U.S. Open before declaring “I’m out of here.”

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TOO YOUNG?: Jordan Spieth’s win at the John Deere Classic last weekend made him the youngest player to win on the PGA Tour since 1931. The 19-year-old was making a serious bid to become the youngest British Open Championship since 1868 _ until he got reckless over the four closing holes Friday.

Story Continues →