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Newz Forum: GOLF: Lefty dials in for 60 at Scottsdale

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posted on Feb, 5 2005 @ 12:34 PM
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Arizona still feels like home to Phil Mickelson, especially on a day like Friday, when he had one of the best rounds of his life, and one of the lowest scores in PGA Tour history.

The Arizona State alum, who long lived in Scottsdale before moving to California, tied the course record with an 11-under 60 in the second round of the FBR Open.

Mickelson birdied the final five holes to finish one stroke shy of the PGA Tour record for 18 holes -- 59, held by Al Geiberger, Chip Beck and David Duval. The Masters champion is the 16th player to shoot a 60.

"It was a wonderful day," Mickelson said. "No complaints here."

Halfway through the 72-hole event, he shared the lead at 9-under 133 with 21-year-old Kevin Na, the youngest player on the PGA Tour.

It was the lowest round ever for Mickelson in an official PGA Tour event, bettering a third-round 61 in his 2001 Greater Hartford Open victory. He shot a 59 last Nov. 24 at the PGA Grand Slam. Mickelson tied the FBR Open -- formerly the Phoenix Open - course record set by Grant Waite in 1996 and matched by Mark Calcavecchia in 2001.

Mickelson, seeking his 24th tour victory and first of 2005, had nine birdies and an eagle on the 7,216-yard Tournament Players Club course, where he won in 1996.

"I would have taken 65 and been ecstatic, because I would be 4 under and be within four or five of the lead going into the weekend," he said. "Instead, I'm near the lead if not on top of it, because I love this tournament."

Wind that had disrupted play Thursday subsided, and the scores dropped accordingly.

Bernhard Langer and Michael Allen shot 66s on Friday and shared third place at 6-under 136, three shots behind the leaders. Nine were tied at 5 under. First-round leader Dudley Hart shot a 73 and was at 2-under 140.

Seventy-seven players made the cut at 3-over 145. Among those who didn't was Justin Leonard, winner of last week's Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, who shot a 4-over 146.

Mickelson had to finish his first round Friday morning after play was suspended Thursday by darkness. He began by sinking a birdie putt on the par-4, 332-yard 17th hole, then he had an eagle, knocking it in from the fringe, on the same hole in the second round later in the day.

As darkness fell on Thursday, Mickelson had decided to mark his ball overnight and putt Friday because he was in the line of Tom Lehman, playing in the same group. Lehman also waited.

"He ended up making the putt and gave me a perfect line, so it worked out for both of us," Mickelson said.

Lehman, inspired by his partner's performance, shot a 65 for a 3-under total.

"I kind of got sucked in in the wake of Phil's 60," Lehman said. "That's kind of the way it felt. He played incredibly well and made the game look really easy today."

Mickelson was 4 over through 12 holes on Thursday, but scrambled to a 2-over 73, six shots behind the leader entering the second round.

He began on the back nine with three consecutive pars, then he had birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th holes. On the 17th, he putted from the fringe and made it from 77 feet, the big gallery roaring in approval. Mickelson got to 4 under with a birdie on the par-5, 554-yard third hole, then mounted his magnificent charge down the stretch.

Each of his last five approach shots was within 10 feet of the hole, and all were birdies. After missing the first six fairways Thursday, the hard-driving left-hander hit 16 of the remaining 22.

Na, yet to win on the PGA Tour, shot a 65 in the second round. He, his father and his manager escaped injury in a serious car accident last Thursday, but his mother fractured a vertebrae and was unable to come to Arizona to watch her son play.

The accident, Na said, "kind of woke me up a little bit, got me out of hibernation."

Na is an admirer of Mickelson.

"I was rooting for him when he won the Masters," Na said. "When he made that putt on the last hole, I started jumping up and down, too. It'll be a lot of fun playing with him. I know him a little bit. I think we'll have a good time."


Golf web

posted on Feb, 12 2005 @ 10:11 PM
Lefty sits at 20-under through three rounds

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Phil Mickelson finally found a situation to tone down his attacking style.

With a dominant performance not seen on the Monterey Peninsula since Tiger Woods won the U.S. Open, Mickelson blew away the field Saturday in the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am with a 5-under 67, giving him a seven-shot lead and a tournament record for the third straight day.

Vijay Singh became the fourth straight defending champ to miss the cut at Pebble Beach, ending his streak at 28 consecutive cuts.

Despite 24 victories on the PGA Tour, Lefty has never had a lead this large.

"I don't want to do anything stupid," Mickelson said. "But I don't want to play defensive, either."

Then again ...

"With this many strokes, I also can take a few chances, too," Mickelson said with a playful grin. "Maybe I might hit driver in a certain spot that I wouldn't otherwise, because I'm OK if I happen to have a penalty shot or what have you. So it might lead to some different play. We'll see."

Either way, it appears his final round could be nothing more than a walk along the beach.

Mickelson rapped in a five-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole at Pebble Beach to finish the three-course rotation at 20-under 196, breaking by two shots the 54-hole scoring record set by David Duval in 1997. All he needs to do Sunday is shoot anything under par to break the 72-hole tournament record that Mark O'Meara set that year.

"Fabulous. It feels terrific," Mickelson said.

Only an eagle by Greg Owen kept Mickelson's lead from being even larger.

Owen, a 32-year-old from England who made it through all three stages of Q-school last year, hit a 4-iron into 12 feet on the par-5 18th at Poppy Hills for a 67. He had no idea the size of Mickelson's lead until informed by reporters, and it didn't take long for him to realize the size of his task.

"You've just got to make birdie on every hole," Owen said.

Mickelson's seven-shot lead was the largest on the PGA Tour since David Toms led by the same margin last year in Memphis. And it had the same feel as Woods' record-setting performance at Pebble in the 2000 U.S. Open, when he took a 10-shot lead into the final round and won by 15.

Two-time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal had a 68 at Poppy Hills and was in a large group at 11-under 205 that included Kevin Sutherland, Paul Goydos and Tim Clark of South Africa.

Mike Weir of Canada had a 73 at Spyglass Hill and dropped back to 206, 10 shots out of the lead.

Vijay Singh will have to watch the final round from home. The world's No. 1 player became the fourth straight defending champion to miss the cut at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

Singh had another 73 to finish at 3-over 219, ending his streak at 28 consecutive cuts.

Mickelson could not have done much worse than his 67. He missed four birdie putts inside 15 feet on his first six holes, picking up one birdie when his sand wedge stopped three feet away at No. 4.

He began to pull away with a sand wedge into 15 feet on the 106-yard seventh and then a 5-iron to 12 feet below the cup on the dangerous eighth hole. His only bogey came on No. 10, when his 8-iron sailed long into a bunker and he missed his 15-foot par putt.

There was not much excitement with Mickelson, which for him was a nice change. He kept the ball in play and relied on a variety of iron shots that have made him a more complete player. One of those shots came at No. 16, when he took two clubs less -- a 9-iron from 123 yards -- to control the flight and reduce the spin. He stuck that inside 15 feet.

A victory Sunday looks likely, but not even Mickelson was buying into that.

"I know the guys behind me are coming after me," Mickelson said.

Billy Andrade had the best round of the day, a 9-under 63 at Pebble Beach that left him only 11 shots behind.

"He won last week, so he's on a high," Andrade said. "And when you're on a high, the game is pretty easy. And right now, that's what he's doing. He's a world-class player, he has been a great player since he was 5. So this isn't a big shock that he has all of a sudden elevated his game."

Owen has played exclusively on the European tour the last seven years, winning the British Masters two years ago. He had back surgery last year that kept him out for four months and then decided a change of scenery might bring a change of luck, so he brought his game to America.

Owen had only seen Pebble Beach on a video game, but he's finding it to his liking.

As for Mickelson?

"I've never played with the guy," he said. "I never got to meet him. I think he's phenomenal. Phil seems to hit and see what comes of it, and takes it on. He's firing on all cylinders this year."

Then he paused.

"That would be a nice scalp, wouldn't it?" Owen said with a smile.

Considering that Mickelson has made only four bogeys in his last six rounds -- and is 58-under par over his last 12 rounds -- that seems unlikely.


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