SANDWICH, England -- The following is not meant to serve as sarcasm, but merely a reminder of historical fact gleaned over 17 largely unproductive trips across the Atlantic Ocean.
Phil Mickelson is a talkative guy, but these words have not often, if ever, passed over his lower lip:
"It's fun for me to come over here and have a chance on Sunday," he said.
Within five strokes of the 54-hole lead for only the second time in his career, the most decorated player in the 140th British Open shot a 1-over 71 on Saturday at rain-battered Royal St. George's, shaking off the elements to contend at a major for the first time since last summer.
Mickelson hasn’t often handled the elements of links golf over the years, and promised that he's play this week with a different mindset completely -- he intended to block out past performances and concentrate solely on the present.
Given is record, brainwashing was a good idea.
A lead-pipe cinch as a Hall of Fame inductee next spring, Mickelson has only once finished in the British Open, where fans might assume the creativity required would suit his game. It hasn’t turned out that way. Not even close.
Mickelson showed up in a downpour to play the first hole while wearing rain gloves on both hands, but as the weather turned, so did his fortunes. He was 3 over after six holes, but once the clouds stopped dumping water by the barrel, he played the closing stretch 2 under.
He stands five strokes behind Northern Ireland veteran Darren Clarke, but there are only five players standing between them.
"Certainly I've got to do something really good tomorrow," said Mickelson, who is seeking his fifth major title. "I've got to shoot something under par, I'm just not sure how low."
The weather will play a role. Forecasts call for a 50 percent chance of rain, again, in the late afternoon, when leaders will be on the exposed, wind-strewn course.
Finding the firepower to make a charge might prove difficult, since the week has had a decidedly non-Lefty feel: He's amassed only seven birdies over 54 holes. But he's kept the damage to a minimum, too.
The blank-slate approach seems to be working, though. At least he has a sniff at the Claret Jug, a true career rarity.
"I mean, there's nothing more exciting than on Sunday having a chance in a major," he said. "Now, I know that I'm not leading, but I'm also right there.
"I know I'm right there, and if I play a good, solid round of a couple under par, I don't know how many, it might have to be 6, might only have to be 2, depends on the weather, if I can get it under par, I'm going to have a good chance.
"To me, that is so much fun, and I'm excited. I feel like it's my first time over here."
Maybe it will result in another first-time result that nobody possibly envisioned -- Mickelson holding the oldest trophy in major-championship golf.
"Yeah, it would be cool, but we shouldn't go into that yet," he said. "We've got a lot of golf left."