Golf Latest: Phil Mickelson Retains Lead In California

Phil Mickelson followed his career-best 60 with a four-under 68 to hold a two-shot lead at the halfway stage of the Desert Classic in California.

The 48-year-old three ahead tonight after his 10 birdies and an eagle at La Quinta, had a double bogey in round two at the Nicklaus Tournament Course.

But he birdied four of the final five holes for a 16-under halfway total.

Also at the Nicklaus Course, world number one Justin Rose shot a second successive 68 and is eight shots back.

Russell Knox had seven birdies in a 65 at La Quinta to reach five under but fellow Scot Martin Laird is one further back after finishing with two double bogeys to return a 75 after his opening 65.

Australian Curtis Luck, in his first season as a PGA Tour member after earning his card via the Tour finals, is Mickelson’s nearest challenger after making two birdies in the last three holes in his 66.

The 22-year-old Australian, who needed only 23 putts in each of the first two rounds, has missed four of his first five cuts this season.

On Saturday, Mickelson and Rose will play the third venue of the event, the Stadium Course, which also hosts Sunday’s final round.

Mickelson began his round at the 10th and birdied his second and third holes.

The double bogey came at his ninth hole but he finished in style with a superbly controlled pitch spinning back to five feet at the last for his sixth birdie of the day.

Asked to compare his second round with his 60, the American said: “I actually felt better striking it but I didn’t putt very well relative to yesterday where I was making everything.”

During his round, the left-hander was about to take a drop using the long-standing method from shoulder height, but a rules official was on hand to remind him that – as from 1 January this year – it should be done from the knee, and no penalty resulted.

The last time Mickelson held the lead at the halfway stage of a tournament was at the 2016 Open when he went on to finish runner-up to Henrik Stenson

“This has been a fun, if not surprising, start for me and it’s fun to get in the mix,” he added.

    Desert Classic second-round leaderboard
-16 P Mickelson (US); -14 C Luck (Aus); -13 A Hadwin (Can), S Marino (US); -12 W Clark (US), J Rahm (Spa), J Garber (US); -11 S O’Hair (US), A Ancer (Mex), P Cantlay (US)
Selected others: -8 J Rose (Eng); -5 R Knox (Sco); -4 M Laird (Sco); -1 D Willett (Eng); +3 S Power (Ire)


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