Bubba Watson and Matt Jones took control at the Waste Management Phoenix Open on Friday, both moving to 12 under for the tournament behind impressive second rounds.
They will have the likes of Harris English, Greg Chalmers, Pat Perez, Hideki Matsuyama and Brandt Snedeker trying to track them down on Saturday.
Here are 5 Things to know from Friday’s second round:
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1. TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADERS: Both Matt Jones and Bubba Watson had seven birdies in the second round, with Jones making one less mistake in a 6-under 65.
Watson followed his opening-round 64 with a solid 66 that has him in contention for his first victory since the 2012 Masters. He finished T-3 at the unofficial Northwestern Mutual World Challenge in December, while also posting a T-8 at the WGC-HSBC Champions in early November.
Matt Jones is more of the unknown here, having turned pro out of Arizona State in 2001, but has no victories on the PGA Tour, with a T-2 at the Greenbrier Classic in 2013 as his best finish. Jones also has four second-place finishes on the Web.com Tour.
The Australian has made the cut only once at the WMPO in three career appearances, finishing T-40 in 2012.
Jones’ big push on Friday came on the back nine, picking up four birdies over his final five holes to leap into Saturday’s final group.
Jones also felt playing early on Friday was a benefit.
“We definitely got the good side of the draw going early,” Jones said. “It’s going to be cold (in the afternoon) and the ball isn’t going as far.”
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2. THE CHASERS: Jones and Watson will not be able to rest on their laurels Saturday, as there are plenty of guys that know how to win nipping at their heels.
Here are a handful of guys to watch:
• Harris English is just two shots back at 10 under and has been a machine thus far in the 2014 wraparound season, winning the OHL Classic at Mayakoba, finishing T-11 at the Hyundai TOC and fourth at the Sony Open. He was also T-7 at the CIMB Clasic after a win and three more top-10 finishes during the 2013 season.
• Hideki Matsuyama had six birdies and two bogeys on Friday in a 4-under 67 that moved him to 9 under and three off the pace. Matsuyama has played well in his three healthy starts in the 2014 PGA Tour season, finishing T-3 at Frys.com Open, T-25 at the CIMB Classic and T-16 at the Farmers Insurance Open. He also had two top-10 performances in seven Tour appearances in 2013.
• Brandt Snedeker fired a season-best, 7-under 64 on Friday, moving within four shots of the lead. Snedeker had failed to break 70 in seven of his last 12 rounds on Tour, although he did finish T-11 at the limited-field Hyundai TOC.
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3. YOU’RE CUTTING OUT: As stout as the top of the leaderboard is heading into Saturday, you could make an all-star team out of those that won’t be sticking around Scottsdale this weekend.
The biggest surprise? Keegan Bradley imploding with a 9-over 80 that sent him from T-10 to T-114 after an opening 66 on Thursday.
Lee Westwood and Padraig Harrington both finished a single shot off the cut line of 1 under, with a 4-over 75 proving too costly for Westwood, and a 2-under 69 not enough for Harrington. A bogey at the par-4 8th proved to be the difference for Westwood, while Harrington bogeyed his final hole.
Rickie Fowler had two double-bogeys on Friday and missed his second consecutive PGA Tour cut at 1 over. Farmers Insurance Open winner Scott Stallings played his way out of the weekend with a 3-over 74 on Friday.
The names also included Ian Poulter, Billy Horschel and Russell Henley.
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4. MORE WORK TO DO: Phil Mickelson fired a bogey-free, 4-under 67 on Friday, moving within eight shots of the lead on a course he flirted with 59 in 2013.
Mickelson had three birdies on his front nine to start creating some buzz, but failed to birdie either back-nine par 5 and was only able to post a birdie on the par-4 17th.
The bogey-free performance was a dramatic improvement over the three bogeys and double-bogey he endured on Friday, although he scrambled for an even-par round.
Mickelson has three rounds of 67-or-better in four weekend rounds at the WMPO over the past two years.
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5. SHORT SHOTS: Former UNLV star Derek Ernst made his first cut in his last four starts, firing a 2-under 69 on Friday to make it on the number. . . . PGA Tour rookie John Peterson (4 under) made his third cut with his full Tour card. . . . The tournament will feature a “green out” on Saturday, asking players and fans to wear green, with $1 being donated to various recycling agencies for each person that does.