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.
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."
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.
Spieth made just two bogeys in his first 32 holes to reach 3 under and stake out a spot near the top of the leaderboard. Then he went double bogey at No. 15, bogey at Nos. 16 and 17, and closed on a sour note by missing a 4-foot birdie putt at the last hole. Despite the 3-over 74, he was still in contention at 143 heading into the final two rounds.
"Yesterday I was, for some reason, extremely patient with just taking my 30-footers and just trying to give myself tap-ins and not worrying about making birdies," Spieth said. "Today I got to a point where I finally had enough and wanted to really hit it closer.
"And that," he added, referring to his closing stretch, "is what happens when you try."
Spieth was asked whether the frenetic pace of the last week might have contributed to the bad decision-making. He said that wasn't a problem, and he wasn't worried about getting caught up reflecting on his breakout win, either.
"Partly because there's not great internet access for me here. But also because it's a major championship, and I'm right back into feeling the nerves of trying to compete out here."