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A week after withdrawing from Torrey Pines because of back pain, Mickelson shot a 4-under 67 in his afternoon round Friday at cool and breezy TPC Scottsdale. The defending champion was eight strokes behind leaders Bubba Watson and Matt Jones.
“I’m not totally out of it,” Mickelson said. “Obviously, heading into the weekend, I’d like to be closer, but as we have seen in the past, there is that 8-, 9-, 10-, in some cases 11-under par round out there.”
Indeed, the three-time champion has shot 11-under 60 twice in the event, in the second round in his 2005 victory and last year in the first round.
Watson, the long-hitting left-hander who won the 2012 Masters, followed his opening 64 with a 66 to reach 12 under. Jones, the Australian who played at Arizona State and lives in Scottsdale, had his second straight 65.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) - Rory McIlroy hit a wedge into 5 feet for birdie on the 18th hole for a 2-under 70 to regain the outright lead in the Dubai Desert Classic.
Brooks Koepka, who earned his European Tour card last year by winning three times on the Challenge Tour, made seven birdies against no bogeys for a 65 that left him one shot behind McIlroy going into the weekend.
Woods, meanwhile, hit only four fairways and had to rely on some key putts to salvage a 73. He was in a tie for 44th, eight shots out of the lead.
McIlroy was at 11-under 133. He appeared to be in control at Emirates Golf Club, leading by three shots after his birdie at No. 10. But he drove wildly into the waste area on the par-5 13th and the par-4 16th holes, both leading to bogeys, before recovering on the 18th.
NEW ZEALAND WOMEN’S OPEN
CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AP) - New Zealand’s Stacey Tate stole the limelight from her Lydia Ko by shooting a 4-under 68 to share the lead with South Korea’s Seon Woo Bae after Friday’s opening round of the New Zealand Women’s Open.
Tate led outright after birdies at six of the first seven holes on her back nine, but bogeys at the last two holes brought her back into a tie with Bae in the Ladies’ European Tour event.
Ko returned to New Zealand after finishing seventh at the latest LPGA tour stop in the Bahamas and was among a group of five players on 69, one shot behind the leading pair.
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