Sun, Feb 01, 2004 - Page 23 News List

Mickelson wins for second time in row with FBR victory

AP , SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA

Phil Mickelson stayed on pace to win back-to-back tournaments for the first time in his career Friday, shooting a 3-under-par 68 to take a one-shot lead in the FBR Open.

Mickelson had three birdies and an eagle before bogeying the last two holes.

His 36-hole score of 10-under 132 was just beyond the reach of Jonathan Kaye, Jeff Sluman and first-round leader Scott Verplank.

"It could have been a really good day, but it's close enough to where a good round tomorrow will give me a chance," said Mickelson, who was winless in 2003 and wound up a career-low 38th on the money list after three years of finishing second.

The left-hander also led with two rounds to go at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, which he won Sunday for his 22nd title, and has been in the 60s all seven rounds this year.

"I feel very comfortable with the way I'm playing, which I haven't had in a long time," Mickelson said.

Verplank started one shot ahead of Mickelson and was up by that margin after 16 holes before also finishing with consecutive bogeys. That threw him back with Sluman, who carded a 67, and Kaye, who shot 68.

Masters champion Mike Weir finished the first round Friday morning with a par-saving, 11-foot putt for 65. Then he played the second in 69 to stay within two shots of the lead. He was joined at 134 by Ricky Barnes (67).

Seventy players made the cut at 142 -- a sign the course was toughened by lengthening some holes. Last year's cut was at 4-under.

Three-time Phoenix winner Mark Calcavecchia and Paul Azinger, the 1987 champion, shot 66s and easily got in the final field as part of an eight-golfer group at 137.

Defending champion Vijay Singh, a two-time winner, carded a 69 for 140 -- in the money by two strokes, and in position to try to extend his run of 10 consecutive top-10 finishes.

Chris DiMarco (2002), Jesper Parnevik (1998) and Lee Janzen (1993) were other Phoenix winners who got in, but Rocco Mediate, the 1999 champ, was out after back-to-back 72s. Jose Maria Olazabal, a two-time Masters champion, was 1-under through seven holes in the second round before withdrawing because of a rib injury.

Mickelson birdied the fifth hole with a short putt, and the eighth with a 45-footer from the fringe.

But the former Arizona State athlete drew the biggest roar from the gallery with a drive of more than 360 yards on the par-5 13th, followed by a 5-iron shot that stopped within 3 feet of the cup.

Mickelson holed the eagle putt, dropping to 11-under.

Two holes later, he birdied No. 15, a par-5 lengthened by 57 yards last year as part of a PGA effort to toughen the course, for the second straight day. This time, he laid up short of the water encircling the green and dropped a deft wedge within 2m.

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