ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Put Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods in the same room and they'd compete for oxygen.
That's why Saturday looked so strange for the two uber-competitors, who played separately but stumbled similarly.
Mickelson blew up with an eight-over 78, triple-bogeying the par-four seventh and playing the final five holes in five over with a double bogey. After trying to drive the 323-yard par-four 14th, Mickelson took a nice tour of the fringe, needing three back-and-forth chips to find the green before two-putting.
His drive on No. 16 dispersed the gallery — symbolic of a day he found just five of 14 fairways — before he saved par. The British Open champion is in next-to-last at 10 over. With apologies to Stephen Gallacher, that's not whom Mickelson expected to be paired with on Sunday.
Woods also enlisted crowd control, spraying three of the four tee shots he used driver into the crowd. The fourth found a fairway bunker. He shot 73 and is tied for 48th at four over.
"Not joyous, that's for sure," Woods said when asked his mood. "It's just one of those weeks where I didn't quite hit it well enough and didn't make enough putts. I kept blocking every putt."
Woods also hit just five of 14 fairways and needed 32 putts in his round, which he began with a bogey when his approach from the rough on No. 1 hit a tree. Paging swing coach, Sean Foley.
"I just haven't got my take-away right; it's off," Woods said. "Consequently, the whole patterning is off. A fraction off on a setup like this, it's going to cost me."
Woods' drought without a major tournament victory will reach 18. That's not the 18 he had in mind for someone pursuing Jack Nicklaus' career majors mark.
"It was a tough day," Woods said.
Jonas Blixt's tee shot on No. 18 landed in a fan's back pocket. No sweat; the Swede took his free drop and blistered a draw out of the rough to three feet to birdie the 497-yard monster.
"It was very fortunate that he was standing where he was so I didn't have to deal with too many trees," Blixt said.
The Swede's bogey-free round of four-under 66 pushed him to six under overall and into fourth. This is just Blixt's second major after he tied for 26th at the British Open, and he revealed his secret strategy for Saturday.
"I drank coffee in the morning and got really jacked up," he said.
Don't look now, but defending champion Rory McIlroy is six shots off the lead after closing with birdies on Nos. 17 and 18 — this week's toughest holes — for a three-under 67. McIlroy dropped a long birdie putt on 17 and chipped in on the final hole.
"To do what I needed to do just to make the cut and then play the way I did [Saturday], it's been a good stretch of holes," McIlroy said.
After more than 92,000 votes on PGA.com, fans selected the Sunday hole location for the par-three 15th to be 25 yards on and four yards from the water on the right. ... Golf Digest reported that Fox Sports offered its lead analyst spot to Greg Norman after wresting U.S. Open coverage from NBC Sports in 2015.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun