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Big names chasing Haas

Phil Mickelson said he enjoyed having his wife in the gallery for the first time since her bout with breast cancer.

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Phil Mickelson said he enjoyed having his wife in the gallery for the first time since her bout with breast cancer.

SAN DIEGO — Strong finishes by Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson made them feel better about their rounds Friday on opposite ends of Torrey Pines and better about their chances of catching Bill Haas.

Haas, slowly turning into the player many thought he would be, made eight birdies on the South Course for 6-under 66, 11-under 133 total, and a two-shot lead over Anthony Kim going into the weekend at the Farmers Insurance Open.

"A nice 36 (holes) on the weekend could turn this into a great week," Haas said.

Mickelson, with his wife mingling in the gallery this week for the first time since she was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2009, turned an ordinary round into a decent one with back-to-back birdies for 3-under 69 on the North Course. He was three shots behind along with defending champion Ben Crane and five others including John Daly.

Yes, that John Daly.

Winless since his surprise playoff victory seven years ago at Torrey Pines, Daly overcame a double bogey on the North Course for 69 and was in the hunt for the first time since he slimmed down and started wearing the loudest clothes on tour.

Could this be another out-of-nowhere win?

"With me, you don't know what to expect," Daly said.

Woods, who has won seven times at Torrey Pines, shot 69 on the South Course and was five shots behind but with only 11 players ahead of him. Woods ran off four straight birdies early then fell well back before a birdie-par-birdie finish brought him back toward the front.

"It was a round that easily could have slipped away," Woods said.

Haas, the son of former PGA Tour player Jay Haas, was a can't-miss kid out of Wake Forest but plodded along until winning twice last year. He lost a playoff last week at the Bob Hope Classic.

Jay Haas won this tournament in 1978, so long ago that Gene Littler was a runnerup and the South Course was only 7,021 yards — it's now 7,698.

Amy Mickelson, one of the most popular and visible wives on tour, walked with a group of friends and couldn't go more than 100 yards without a spectator wishing her well.

"It's been a lot of fun having Amy out here this week," Phil Mickelson said. "She just looks terrific. After a year and a half, we're in such a better place, and it's been a lot of fun having here out here."

Broken putter not such a bad break for Jimenez

RIFFA, Bahrain — Miguel Angel Jimenez's temper cost him a club but didn't seem to cost him any strokes.

Jimenez improvised after breaking his putter Friday to grab a share of a four-way tie for the lead at the Volvo Champions, using a lob wedge to make three birdie putts to shoot 7-under 65.

The Spaniard was tied at 11-under 133 with Edoardo Molinari and Raphael Jacquelin, who also had 65s, and Peter Hanson (67) in the European Tour event.

Disgusted with missing several short putts, Jimenez, 46, snapped his putter in two on the 13th hole. But his lob wedge served just fine, including on a 15-foot birdie at the 16th.

"I played so good (Friday) and I had so many chances for birdie," Jimenez said. "I missed like 3-foot putts a few times, so I just slammed the putter and, unfortunately, the bag came in the way! I am now thinking that I putted so well with the lob wedge, whether I should keep it for (today's) round, too."

Big names chasing Haas 01/28/11 [Last modified: Friday, January 28, 2011 11:03pm]
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