(CNN) -- When Phil Mickelson finished as a runner-up at the U.S. Open for a sixth time, he said "it hurt." Last month at Merion, it was Justin Rose who got the better of Mickelson.
Mickelson subsequently missed the cut at the Greenbrier Classic in West Virginia and dropped off the pace Friday at the Scottish Open as the tournament's highest-ranked player.
But the world No. 8 recovered Saturday on the links course at Castle Stuart in the Scottish Highlands and is now within touching distance of claiming a first individual victory on British soil.
In his ninth Scottish Open appearance, he is tied for second through three rounds, trailing Sweden's Henrik Stenson by two shots.
"Any victory over here would be terrific but we are getting ahead of ourselves," Mickelson was quoted as saying by the European Tour's website.
"There's a packed leaderboard so it will take one good round of a shootout between 15 and 20 guys that are right there. Being in position and shooting that good round today feels terrific but I've got to go out tomorrow and duplicate it."
A win for Mickelson would likely boost his confidence ahead of the British Open that starts Thursday at Muirfield, also in Scotland. Last year he missed the cut.
Mickelson hit four birdies on the back nine and six overall to shoot a six-under 66 in the third round following his 70 in the second.
"The first seven holes I got off to a bit of a slow start and I was really behind when I needed to make up ground," said Mickelson. "On the eighth I tried to slow it down and be patient, got one putt to drop and that seemed to ignite the rest of the round."
Stenson matched Mickelson with a 66, tallying seven birdies and dropping his lone shot at the ninth hole. He is seeking just his second win in six years on the European Tour.
"It's great to be back in the mix and getting the adrenaline going again," said Stenson. "I have always enjoyed playing with the best players in the world and trying to measure myself against them.
"I've played with Phil a few times and against him in the Ryder Cup so I will need to bring my good game again. But it's not just about the two of us. There are a lot of other players."
Another Scandinavian, Denmark's JB Hansen, first-round leader John Parry of England and South Africa's Branden Grace were the other golfers tied for second with American Mickelson.
Scotland's Chris Doak, the overnight leader ranked 341st, dropped into a tie for 12th.
He was one of two golfers in the top 20 in the standings who shot above par in the round.
On Friday, British Open champion Ernie Els missed the cut.
Woods set for Muirfield
Tiger Woods, meanwhile, said he'll be ready for Muirfield despite still taking anti-inflammatory medication for the elbow injury that hampered him at the U.S. Open.
"I started chipping and putting a little over a week ago and I'm full go for the British Open," he told his website. "I'm very confident my elbow strain won't be a problem and I will be able to hit all the shots I need to hit."
"That's why I took the time off, so it could heal and I would feel comfortable playing again."
Although he is the world No. 1, Woods last won a major in 2008.