- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 21, 2009

From combined dispatches

LOS ANGELES | With darkness rapidly descending, Scott McCarron saw enough of the 18th green from 211 yards away to realize it would be one of the tougher shots he faced Friday. The way his week is going, it turned into another birdie.

McCarron aimed his 5-wood toward the bleachers and watched it fade beautifully back toward the flag to about 10 feet, a final birdie in his round of 3-under 68 that gave him a two-shot lead over Steve Stricker and Tommy Armour III in the Northern Trust Open.

“I usually do my best work at night,” McCarron said.

Phil Mickelson will need to do better on the weekend if he wants to successfully defend his title at Riviera. He was nine shots worse than his opening-round 63, but it was easy to see the upside after a 72 put him in the group only three behind.

“This is the first time I’m in contention heading into the weekend, and I’m excited about it,” Mickelson said.

The last two groups finished in the dark, including two players whose PGA Tour debuts turned into short ones.

Fernandez, Pooley lead

NAPLES, Fla. | Vicente Fernandez and Don Pooley shot 4-under 68s to share the first-round lead in the ACE Group Classic, while Jay Haas finished a stroke back after a two-stroke penalty for hitting a piece of pine straw in a hazard.

After hitting out of the hazard, Haas said it crossed his mind that touching the pine straw on his backswing might be a penalty for moving loose impediments in a hazard. Haas hit his fourth shot to two feet, but then missed the putt.

On the next hole, Haas talked to a rules official, who returned two holes later and told Haas that it was indeed a two-stroke penalty.

Kang surges ahead

PERTH, Australia | American Anthony Kang, the Malaysian Open winner last week, shot his second straight 5-under 67 for a share of the second-round lead in the Johnnie Walker Classic with Ireland’s Damien McGrane.

Kang and McGrane (68) had 10-under 134 totals on the Vines Resort’s composite course in the event sanctioned by the Australasian, European, Asian tours.

New Zealand amateur Danny Lee, the U.S. Amateur champion, was a stroke back along with Spain’s Ignacio Garrido and Japan’s Hiroyuki Fujita. They shot 68s. American star Anthony Kim shot his second straight 68 to top a group at 8 under.

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