Sunday, December 17, 2017
Golf

Mickelson's 63 gives him share of Deutsche Bank Championship lead

NORTON, Mass. — Phil Mickel­son keeps saying how much he loves playing with Tiger Woods. He shot 63 at the Deutsche Bank Championship on Friday to prove it.

In a group with the top three players in the world ranking, Mickelson turned in the star performance with 28 in his first nine holes, allowing him to consider — briefly — a shot at 59.

By the end, after he had played a risky shot from deep in the trees on his final hole to salvage bogey, he was happy to share the lead with Brian Davis, who made a 25-foot birdie on the last hole to shoot 8 under also. They were a shot ahead of Kevin Stadler.

"What Phil did (Friday) was pretty impressive," Woods said after shooting 3-under 68.

Masters champion Adam Scott, rounding out the pairing with Mickelson and Woods, struggled to 73 and joked that he rolled out of the wrong side of the bed. "I wish I could have gotten in their jet stream," he said.

Mickelson started on the back nine of TPC Boston by making birdies of 20 feet on No. 10 and 30 feet on No. 11. He ended with five straight birdies, the second nine-hole score of 28 on the PGA Tour this year. After bogey on No. 1, he hit a 6-iron from 213 yards that settled just more than a foot away for eagle on the next hole. That put him 8 under with seven holes to play.

"I got off to a great front nine and somewhat stalled on the back," Mickelson said. "But after shooting 7 under the first nine, it was going to be a good round as long as I didn't mess it up."

He tried. Mickelson ended his brilliant round with two words: "Oh, no." He hit a snap-hook off the ninth tee so far right that it missed the fairway by some 40 yards and went so deep in the woods that fans could barely see Mickelson ducking and weaving through branches to find his ball.

He decided against a one-shot penalty drop out of the lateral hazard.

"Just give me an 8- or a 9-iron," he told his caddie, Jim Mackay. He was ready to hack away when his caddie reminded him the gallery was still in the way. Choking well up the grip, flattening the swing to avoid limbs, Mickelson chopped it out to the rough and had 210 yards left. He knocked that one on the green and two-putted for his bogey and 63.

At the 2007 Deutsche Bank Championship, Mickelson got over his mental hurdle of playing with Woods, his longtime nemesis, in part because of tips from swing coach Butch Harmon, who had worked with Woods. In the 15 rounds Mickelson and Woods have played together since, Mickelson has a 9-5-1 advantage in posting the lower score.

Woods said his back, which bothered him last week, felt fine, and there were no outward indications he was in pain.

"The back is good," Woods said. "Unfortunately, I didn't give myself a whole lot of looks."

This tournament is the second of four in the FedEx Cup playoffs. The top 70 in FedEx Cup points at its end advance to the third playoff event.

LPGA: Pornanong Phatlum birdied three of her last four holes to shoot 66 and keep a one-stroke lead at 14-under 130 after the second round of the Safeway Classic in Portland. Suzann Pettersen was a stroke back after a bogey-free 63. Tampa resident Kristy McPherson (70) and Tampa's Cindy LaCrosse (71) were at 141. Sweden's Sophie Gustafson, 39, announced her retirement after missing the cut.

Champions: Rocco Mediate eagled two of the final four holes to lead the first round at 8-under 63 in the inaugural Shaw Charity Classic in Calgary. Bart Bryant, Jeff Sluman, Bobby Clampett and Dunedin resident Rod Spittle were a stroke back.

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