Phil Mickelson will take a two-shot lead into the final two rounds of the Wells Fargo Championship after shooting 67 Friday. Here are 5 Things you need to know from the second round at Quail Hollow Club:
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1. LEFTY’S LEADING: Phil Mickelson has finished in the top 10 in six of his nine appearances at Quail Hollow. He’s never won, though.
“I feel really excited about the weekend because I know I’m going to drive it well this weekend,” Mickelson said. He’s hit just 11 of 28 fairways this week, but said an alignment adjustment late in Friday’s round led him to believe he’d fixed his struggles finding the fairway.
“I was getting closed and I had to hang back and flip it online,” Mickelson said.
Mickelson will hold the lead heading into Kentucky Derby weekend, and Mickelson revealed that he and his brother, Tim, are fractional owners of a racehorse that had Kentucky Derby aspirations but didn’t qualify for the elite field.
“If he had (qualified) I probably would be there, because I’ve never been to the Derby,” Mickelson said. “I hear what a great environment it is, but I’m kind of happy it didn’t work out because I like being right here.”
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2. ON GARD-INER: Scott Gardiner, a 37-year-old PGA Tour rookie, is tied for second with Nick Watney and George McNeill. Gardiner shot 70-67 and will start the third round two shots behind Phil Mickelson. They will play in Saturday’s final group at 1:40 p.m.
“Probably nobody’s more surprised than I am,” Gardiner said. “It’s great to be out here . . . and to play some good golf too.”
When asked why he was surprised by his high standing, Gardiner said, “Have you seen my resume this year? My short game has been poor, so it’s nice to see some improvement in those areas.”
Gardiner, who graduated from the Web.com Tour last year, has earned $116,374 this season. He finished 15th in his first start this season, at the Sony Open in Hawaii, but has missed nine of the last 11 cuts, and finished no better than 50th. He arrived at Quail Hollow having missed eight consecutive cuts. He’s finished over par in all eight of those events.
Gardiner is the first Aborigine to play on the PGA Tour. He credited the National Aboriginal Sports Corporation of Australia, and a program called The Hunt for the Australian Tiger, for helping him reach the PGA Tour.
“It was around 2000, and Tiger had just won the Masters. They gave a lot of kids scholarships to work in the golf industry, not just try to play great golf, but to be an assistant pro or try to become a pro. It was a great leg up for me to chase my dream,” Gardiner said.
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3. GARCIA CLEARED ON CALLER’S CHALLENGE: A back injury, rules question and an interesting club selection on a green resulted in an interesting day for Sergio Garcia. He spent about a half-hour after his round reviewing tape of the telecast after a viewer called in to say that Garcia had improperly replaced his ball.
No violation was found.
Garcia holed out with a 52-degree wedge on the third green, using the lofted club in lieu of his putter because of a large spike mark that rested in front of his ball after he left his birdie putt 5 feet short. “I thought the only way I could make is if I played it like stymies in the 1920s,” he said. “Just needed to chip it over and hopefully it rolls down the hill. I was lucky to get it right, I guess.”
Garcia also said he hurt his back on his tee shot on No. 10. He said the injury might lead to his withdrawal if he doesn’t feel like he can swing the club the way he would like.
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4. LOYAL WESTWOOD IN TOP FIVE: Lee Westwood is tied for fifth, three shots back. He’s looking for his third PGA Tour victory, and first since the 2010 St. Jude Classic.
Westwood is battling a chest infection this week. He was fifth here last year, and said he didn’t consider passing on the event in spite of the course’s struggling putting surfaces.
“I like this golf course way too much,” he said. “It’s a lot of money that we’re playing and a title at the end of the day.”
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5. SHORT SHOTS: Jordan Spieth, who has three top-10s in eight PGA Tour events in his first season, is T-13 after shooting 69-71. … PGA Tour rookie Derek Ernst, a co-leader after a first-round 67, shot 71 and is T-5 at 6-under 138. Ernst has made just two cuts in seven starts this year, earning $28,255. … Lucas Glover, the 2011 Wells Fargo winner, is T-10 through 36 holes. Glover finished fourth at last week’s Zurich Classic. … Monday qualifier Nate Smith, who was a co-leader after his first-round 67, shot 74 and is now T-21 at 3-under 141. … Defending champion Rickie Fowler is T-47 after shooting consecutive 72s. … Eighty-three players made the cut, which fell at 2-over 146.