5 Things: Mickelson provides thrills in Phoenix
Saturday, February 2, 2013
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – If Phil Mickelson's horseshoed missed putt for a 59 on Thursday was the equivalent of a 2-out, broken-bat single in the ninth inning to break up a perfect game, then the double bogey to finish his second round Friday was like back-to-back home runs to break up a shutout.
"Phil the Thrill" posted a 6-under 65 and maintains a four-shot lead at a gaudy 17-under 125 at the midway point of the Waste Management Phoenix Open. He has a 10:50 a.m. tee time on "moving day" and will be paired with his Ryder Cup partner, Keegan Bradley, and Bill Haas. Expect more thrills along the way.
Here are 5 Things you need to know from Friday's second round:
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MICKELSON'S SMOOCH: We've heard of players kissing their putters, but their driver? This may be a first.
After finding the fairway at the 10th hole, Phil Mickelson kissed the clubface of his new Callaway Razr Fit Extreme driver, which he first put in the bag Tuesday.
"That drive has always been difficult to take it over those bunkers," he said. "I've been out of bounds on the range to the right, I've been in the desert left, and I stood up and just hit the easiest, little high draw over that bunker around the corner into the middle of the fairway, and it just felt easy to do."
Mickelson, who has hit 16 of 28 fairways in the first two rounds, has raved about the club for the past three days.
"I'm really ecstatic about the way I'm driving it this week, but also about the long-term effect that this driver can have," he said.
Who can complain with the results? Mickelson’s score of 125 matched Mark Calcavecchia in 2001 for the record for lowest, first 36 holes at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
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HAAS' HELP: Chasing at Mickelson's heels is Bill Haas, who trails by four shots after shooting a bogey-free 64 in the second round.
Credit some of his success to a timely practice session earlier this week with short-game guru Stan Utley.
Utley did wonders for Haas' father, Jay, in 2004. Bill said this was the first time he and Utley had spent significant time working on his putting stroke.
"He just gave me some positive feedback," Haas said. "This has been the first week where I feel like I'm rolling it nice for two days, and I don't know if that's exactly the key, but it was a little bit."
Haas said he added an inch of length – to 36 inches – to his Scotty Cameron putter. Haas used a belly putter when he won the Tour Championship in 2011 and the 2012 Northern Trust Open. He switched back to a conventional model for most of the second half of last season. Haas said he tried the belly putter on Wednesday, but it didn't feel as comfortable as it did when he was winning with it.
"Practicing with it might have helped me a little bit," he said.
The advice from Utley has paid early dividends. Haas is second in strokes gained-putting through two rounds this week (he ranks No. 165 on Tour this season). He knows a hot putter will be the key to catching Mickelson on the weekend.
"If there's no wind on the weekend," Haas said, "you've just to keep making birdies."
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REMEMBER WHEN? How much has Keegan Bradley's career progressed in the past few years? Well, as a PGA Tour rookie in 2011, he wasn't in the field at Phoenix and attempted to Monday qualify. He shot 68. That was one too many after missing from 15 feet on the last hole.
"I remember getting done and saying, 'This will hopefully be the last Monday qualifier I'll ever participate in,' " Bradley said.
Well, his Mondays are free for quite a while thanks to victories at the 2011 PGA Championship and 2012 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
"But it is a good reminder of how far I've come," he said.
Bradley vaulted up the leaderboard with an 8-under 63 on Friday to move into a third-place tie with Brandt Snedeker at 12-under 130. Bradley kick-started his round by rolling in a 20-foot birdie putt at the par-4 11th hole, his second hole of the day.
"It was the longest putt I've made in a couple of weeks, it feels like," Bradley said, "so that kind of opened up the hole, it seemed like, from there."
Later, he strung together birdies on Nos. 5-8. Bradley led the strokes-gained-putting statistic in the second round, gaining more than 3.5 strokes on the field.
Said Bradley: "I gave myself the best opportunity now to be in good shape for the weekend."
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IT'S RAINING . . . BEER? Every pro has his memories of playing at TPC Scottsdale's famous par-3 16th hole. But for Robert Garrigus, his memorable moment was as a spectator.
It was 1997 and he was 21, working the driving range as a member of the Scottsdale Community College golf team.
"Hal Sutton let me hit a driver, and I outdrove him," Garrigus said. "And I was driving the cart when Dudley Hart got hit in the wrist by Larry Mize."
When he got a break, he made his way to the 16th tee and witnessed history.
"I was actually standing two people behind the ropes when Tiger hooped it," he said. "I might have been the first guy to throw a beer, I don't know. But it started raining, big time, and everybody in the Thunderbirds (volunteers who help with the tournament) was like, 'No, no,' and they're getting pelted with beers. It was unbelievable."
And Garrigus said he had the perfect vantage point to see it – and for a photographer to immortalize the moment.
"I was even in the GQ shot after he made it," Garrigus said. "You could see me in my sunglasses in the back of the shot. It was so perfect. It was a perfect shot, high 9-iron, boom, right in the joint."
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TRUNK SLAMMERS: Here's a weird and wacky stat for you: Thanks to frost delays, this marked the first time the cut came on Friday since 2006. There were 74 survivors at 4-under 138.
Among those missing the weekend were both of Mickelson's playing partners, Rickie Fowler and Jason Dufner, past champion J.B. Holmes, European Ryder Cuppers Martin Kaymer and Nicolas Colsaerts, former U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy and Japanese sensation Ryo Ishikawa.