Phil Mickelson fired a two-under par 70 in Saturday's third round of the Masters

Augusta (United States) (AFP) - Phil Mickelson says he must flirt with Augusta National’s course record Sunday for any hope of winning the Masters but the five-time major champion says the round is in him.

The 48-year-old American left-hander, who would become the oldest major winner in golf history with a victory Sunday, sank a 23-foot birdie putt at the 18th hole to finish a two-under par 70 and stand on six-under 210 through 54 holes.

“It’s so fun being in contention and tomorrow you never know,” Mickelson said. “I’ve got to shoot seven- , eight- , nine-under par, but I love that I even have that chance.

“I think I had it today if I had just scored a little bit. That certainly should have been the score.

“I’m hitting the ball. I’m putting the ball well enough to do it, but I just have to put it all together in that one round.”

Mickelson, a three-time Masters champion, struggled to find momentum on a day when rain-softened Augusta National yielded three rounds of 64, one off the course record.

“I tried to get aggressive today and I was close,” Mickelson said. “It seemed like that was the theme of the day for me, but usually when that happens the next day’s when it clicks, so I’m hopeful tomorrow’s that day.”

Mickelson, who turns 49 in July, would become the oldest major champion in golf history with a victory, a few months beyond the current mark held by Julius Boros from the 1968 PGA Championship.

Jack Nicklaus is the oldest Masters champion, winning at 46 in 1986.

Mickelson tapped in for birdie at the par-5 second and dropped a seven-foot birdie putt at the par-4 third but gave one back with a six-foot par putt miss at the fifth.

“Lefty” struck again with a nine-foot birdie putt at the par-3 12th but gave it back at the par-4 17th, going over the green with his approach and watching his first chip from 54 feet roll back to him.

The damage done, he pitched again to five feet and made bogey, although his long closing putt eased the sting.

“I was just fractionally off,” Mickelson said. “I missed a couple of short putts on five and six and 13. I hit a good shot into 17, hit it in a bad spot over the green. Every time I tried to get close I just was off.”

Aggressive intends are seldom rewarded at Augusta National but Mickelson is far enough back and behind a host of rivals so he has little to lose.

“Given that there’s so many people in front of me, I have to go catch them,” Mickelson said. “Which means I’ve got to go shoot a low one.”