Lefty misses record but leads by four
By JOHN NICHOLSON
The Associated Press | February 02,2013
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Phil Mickelson birdied the ninth hole a day too late and missed a chance to break the PGA Tour’s 36-hole scoring record when he finished with a double bogey after driving into the water.
Mickelson followed his opening 60 with a 65 on Friday in the Phoenix Open to reach 17-under 125, a stroke off the tour record for the first two rounds of a tournament set by Pat Perez in the 2009 Bob Hope Classic and matched by David Toms at Colonial in 2011.
“Unfortunately, I made a double on the last hole and didn’t finish the way I wanted to,” Mickelson said. “But I think it’s a good example of what can happen on this course. You can make a lot of birdies and eagles, make up a lot of ground, but there’s a lot of water and trouble there that if you misstep you can easily make bogeys and double.”
He still tied the Phoenix Open record set by Mark Calcavecchia in 2001, but history slipped through his hands for the second straight day on the last hole.
On Thursday, Mickelson had a 25-foot birdie putt for a 59 on No. 9 that caught the right edge, curled 180 degrees and stayed out. A day later with little at stake on the par-4 hole, he hit to 4 feet and rolled the downhill putt into the center of the cup.
“You always remember kind of the last hole, the last putt,” Mickelson said. “But I think it’s very possible that’s going to help me because it’s got me refocused, that I cannot ease up on a single shot. I’ve got to be really focused. These guys are going to make a lot of birdies and I’ve got to get after it and cannot make those kinds of mistakes.”
Mickelson parred the first six holes, and played the next 11 in 8 under before making a mess of the par-4 18th. His drive bounced into the left-side water hazard and, after a penalty drop, he hit an approach that landed on the green and rolled off the front edge. His chip ran 7 feet past and his bogey putt slid by to the left.
“I hit a good shot, I thought,” Mickelson said. “I tried to start it right down the middle and hold it into the wind. It just leaked a little bit left. I still thought it was up. ... Then I hit a poor wedge from there. But the tee shot I didn’t think was going to be in the water at any point.”
The double bogey left him four strokes ahead of Bill Haas and five in front of Keegan Bradley and Brandt Snedeker. Haas shot 64, Bradley 63, and Snedeker 66.
Mickelson will play alongside Haas and Bradley in the third round.
“Bill and I have played on a Presidents Cup team, and Keegan and I have been partners in the Ryder Cup and had an incredibly emotional and fun experience together as partners,” Mickelson said. “We’re going to have a fun day tomorrow.”
Mickelson was cruising before the lapse on 18.
The 42-year-old former Arizona State star, who won at TPC Scottsdale in 1996 and 2005, overpowered the par-5 15th for an eagle, hitting to 4 feet after a 358-yard drive.
“I felt really comfortable on the tee box, so I kind of let one go and caught a hold of it and ended up having 191 to the pin,” Mickelson said. “It was only 186 to the front, and I hit a hard 8-iron. There was a little bit of helping wind.”
After a par on the par-3 16th that drew boos from the rowdy fans on the stadium hole when his tee shot trickled into the fringe, he drove the green on the 344-yard 17th and two-putted from 70 feet — leaving his eagle try a foot short — for birdie.
Bradley also eagled the 15th, hitting a 350-yard drive and a 7-iron approach to 8 feet.
“I just smashed a driver down there,” Bradley said. “I had been hitting 3-wood and I’m driving the ball so well that I just decided to rip driver down there.”
He birdied the 16th, hitting to 5 feet.
“It reminds me of when I go to Fenway Park,” Bradley said. “There’s always like a murmur. ... It’s really cool. I dig it. I wish there was more holes like that out here.”
He birdied Nos. 5-8 on his back nine, holing putts of 10 15, 20 and 8 feet.
“It was such a relief to shoot a good number,” Bradley said. “I’ve been playing so well this whole year and haven’t made many putts. Today, the putts started to go in.”
Haas also began play on No. 10 and made the turn at 6-under 30.
“We all know the way the course is playing, if there’s no wind on the weekend, you’ve just got to keep making birdies,” Haas said.
Last year in the Northern Trust Open at Riviera, Haas beat Mickelson and Bradley with a 45-foot birdie putt on the second hole of a playoff.
“It’s just another day. It’s moving day,” Haas said. “Hopefully, I can move up the leaderboard and he (Mickelson) doesn’t go too crazy.”
DIVOTS: Jason Dufner, paired with Mickelson and Rickie Fowler, missed the cut by a stroke, ending the tour’s longest active streak at 22. Dufner shot 68-71, leaving Ian Poulter with the longest current streak at 16. Fowler also shot 68-71 to drop out. ... Mike Weir failed to advance a week after ending a streak of 17 missed cuts that dated to July 2001. He shot 69-73. ... Golf Channel will have “spotlight” coverage” of the 15th, 16th and 17th holes Saturday and Sunday, opposite the first two hours of NBC’s regular broadcast. The sister networks will stagger commercial breaks. ... Masters champion Bubba Watson was 8 under after his second straight 67. He played through strep throat to tie for fourth in the season-opening Tournament of Champions and withdrew last week in San Diego because of the flu. ... Defending champion Kyle Stanley made the cut by a stroke at 4 under.