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Mickelson surges as Woods slumps

AKRON, Ohio — Phil Mickelson is closing in on No. 1.

The first step is to make up a one-shot deficit against Retief Goosen, the 36-hole leader Friday at the Bridgestone Invitational. Looking more inevitable is Mickel­son finally supplanting Tiger Woods atop the world ranking.

Goosen turned bogey into birdie by chipping in from 25 yards off the green at No. 4, sending him on his way to 4-under 66 that gave him a one-shot lead over Mickelson and Justin Leonard (66) going into the weekend at Firestone.

Even as Goosen led another assault on par in soft conditions, Woods continued to look as ordinary as ever. The seven-time champion at Firestone hit only three fairways and stumbled to 2-over 72 — the first time he has had consecutive rounds over par at this tournament — that put him 13 shots out of the lead, and five players removed from last place.

Woods had no intention of speaking to reporters, walking to his car and driving away.

Things got so bad off the tee that he had to supply his own soundtrack.

"Get in the hole!" he sneered under his breath at an errant iron shot into the par-3 seventh, repeating the phrase so often yelled by the loudest of his fans.

Woods has been No. 1 in the world since the week before the 2005 U.S. Open, but he would lose his top ranking if Mickelson were to finish in fourth place alone and Woods — who is tied for 72nd — finishes out of the top 44.

"Obviously, it would be cool," Mickelson said. "It would be something I would love to do, being regarded as No. 1 according to the ranking. And I know that I've got a great opportunity this week."

Despite bogey on the final hole, Goosen was at 7-under 133 as he tries to win his first World Golf Championship. Sixteen players were separated by four shots going into the weekend.

That includes Bubba Watson (71) in the group at 5-under 135, Adam Scott (70), Lucas Glover (66) and Paul Casey (68) at 136, and Rory McIlroy (69) and Dustin Johnson (65) in the group at 137.

PGA: Alex Cejka likes the course for the Turning Stone Resort Championship, especially the back nine. He shot 4-under 68 in the second round at Atunyote Golf Club in Verona, N.Y., to take a one-stroke lead at 10-under 134 over Chris Tidland and first-round co-leader Rory Sabbatini. Wind gusts that reached 30 mph wreaked havoc, but Cejka birdied four holes after he made the turn to give him eight birdies and no bogeys on the back nine through the first two rounds. Tidland (69) and Sabbatini (70) were tied for second.

Champions: Tommy Armour shot 9-under 63 and has a one-stroke lead over Mark Calcavecchia and David Frost after one round of the 3M Championship in Blaine, Minn. John Cook and Jeff Sluman were two shots back. Starting on the back side, Armour birdied three of his first four holes and added another at No. 18. Birdies on Nos. 2 and 3 got him to 6 under before he birdied his last three holes.

Westwood withdraws from pga: Lee Westwood, No. 3 in the world, withdrew from next week's PGA Championship with an injury that even puts October's Ryder Cup in doubt. Westwood, runnerup at the Masters and the British Open this year, injured his calf at the French Open the first week in July. It has caused problems with swelling in his right ankle, and it reached a breaking point Friday at the Bridgestone Invitational. He had his ankle taped for the second round and sputtered to 76. He withdrew later in the afternoon.

Mickelson surges as Woods slumps 08/06/10 [Last modified: Friday, August 6, 2010 9:46pm]
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