124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2

The Loop

Here's why Phil Mickelson is optimistic after a shaky start at the PGA Championship

SPRINGFIELD, N.J. -- Back at Baltusrol for the first time since his PGA Championship win in 2005, Phil Mickelson looked shaky in the start of his return.

Lefty started four over in his first 11 holes, including a bogey on the par-5 18th -- the same hole he birdied after touching the Jack Nicklaus plaque off the tee in 2005. Nearly hitting one into the water with his second shot, Mickelson hit a chunk pull into the grandstands to the right of the green.

But Mickelson turned his round around with a birdie at the third hole, crediting the fans at Baltusrol for helping turn his mood.

"The people helped to really kind of pick me back up. I remember walking off the third tee and a guy said, 'Hey, you've got a lot of golf left. You're not out of this, let's get going,' " Lefty recalled. "And he's right. I got a lot of golf left."

Here's a look at his birdie from 16 feet at the third hole, which he calls "usually the hardest hole out here."

Then Phil made two more birdies coming in at the sixth and 7 to get to one over.

With loftier expectations after his stellar runner-up at Royal Troon and returning to Baltusrol, Mickelson's start to Thursday's round felt disappointing. But Lefty turned it around, and feels confident with the momentum he built up heading into tomorrow.

"I think I can shoot in the mid 60s and get back in it, and that's the goal," Mickelson said. "The support that the people here in the New Jersey, New York, metropolitan area have given me over the years, today was the day that it helped the most."