Phil Mickelson uses late birdie run to retain lead at Desert Classic

Keyur Khamar/PGA Tour

Phil Mickelson uses late birdie run to retain lead at Desert Classic

PGA Tour

Phil Mickelson uses late birdie run to retain lead at Desert Classic

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Here’s a recap of the second round of the Desert Classic in La Quinta, Calif.

LEADING: Phil Mickelson is still in control thanks to a late surge.

The left-hander wasn’t as potent as he proved to be on Day 1, but that was a high standard considering he opened at La Quinta Country Club in 12-under 60 to race out to a three-shot lead. He made six birdies, though, Friday at PGA West’s Nicklaus Tournament Course. Four of those came in his final five holes, allowing him a 4-under 68, a 16-under total and a two-shot cushion.

Mickelson actually led by five after birdieing two of his first threes holes Friday. But he then stalled with a double bogey and nine pars over his next 10 holes. He got back in sync late, though, as he birdied Nos. 5-7 and closed with another at the ninth.

The leader will move to PGA West’s Stadium Course on Saturday, as all the players in the field rotate between La Quinta CC, the Nicklaus Tournament Course and the Stadium Course over the first three rounds. All competitors who reach the final round will compete on the Stadium Course that day.

Mickelson, 48, is a two-time winner of this event and boasts 43 PGA Tour titles overall. This is his first tournament of 2019, and so far he’s starting it off right.

CHASING: Curtis Luck moved into second after a 6-under 66 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course pushed him to 14 under. Adam Hadwin had his 6-under 66 at La Quinta Country Club, but the man who shot 59 at this event two years ago is in strong position in a tie for third at 13 under. Steve Marino is also T-3 at 13 under. Defending champion Jon Rahm is among the group 12 under and in a tie for fifth.

SHOT OF THE DAY: Harris English closed his Friday in style…

SHORT SHOTS: Patrick Cantlay is T-8 at 11 under. … Carlos Ortiz fired a Friday 62 at La Quinta Country Club to rocket 103 spots to T-11 at 10 under. … Justin Rose finds himself 8 under and T-28. … The cut of top 70 and ties will not come until after the third round. That gives guys like English another day for more heroics to move onto Sunday. English is only T-90 at 4 under despite that wonderful birdie.

UP NEXT: The third round will be aired by Golf Channel from 3-7 p.m. Follow all the action live on Golfweek.com and our Facebook and Twitter feeds.

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