- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 31, 2009

From combined dispatches

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. | As local favorite Phil Mickelson missed the projected cut by seven strokes, Nick Watney shot an 8-under 63 Friday to take the second-round lead at the FBR Open. Play was called because of darkness with three players, all above the cut line, still on the course.

At 9 under through two rounds, Watney had a one-stroke lead on Charley Hoffman, Matt Kuchar and first-round co-leader James Nitties. Kenny Perry and Cameron Beckman were two shots back.

“I was hitting the ball close, and I kept telling my caddie just to get me on the green any way and I felt like I could hole it,” Watney said.

Watney matched his career-low round, a first-round 63 in the 2008 Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. He tied for 36th that week.

Watney entered Friday five strokes off the lead but roared into contention with two eagles in a three-hole stretch. The first came on the par-5, 595-yard 13th hole, the second on the par-5, 552-yard 15th.

Watney also had four birdies, including three in a row on the front nine.

He attributed his hot putting to work he did in the offseason, when he tried to simplify his approach and “putt like you did when you were a kid.”

“You tell a kid to hit it at that spike mark and he’ll do it, so that’s what I’ve been trying to do,” Watney said.

Watney is contending for his second tour victory; his first came at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans two years ago.

Mickelson usually fares well in this event, although he has missed the cut here twice in the past three years. Mickelson is the leading money-winner in tournament history: $2,452,814 earned in 20 years.

But he never recovered from a disastrous 5-over 76 in Thursday’s first round. He had five bogeys and three pars in his morning round Friday.

Stenson moves ahead

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates | Sweden’s Henrik Stenson shot a 7-under 65 to take a one-stroke lead in the suspended second round of the Dubai Desert Classic.

Stenson, a Dubai resident since 2003, played 25 holes because of fog delays in the opening round. He had an 11-under 133 total.

Australia’s Richard Green, the 1997 winner, was second after a 63; Sergio Garcia was 8 under after a 66. India’s Jeev Milkha Singh (68) and Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy were 7 under; McIlroy had 15 holes left in the second round.

Tour sues Ginn

BUNNELL, Fla. | The PGA Tour has sued Ginn Development, citing breach of contract after the resort company dropped sponsorship of the Champions Tour Ginn Championship.

Ginn, which has seen its financial well-being take a serious hit in the economic downturn, announced Wednesday it was ending all golf sponsorships immediately, including the Champions Tour event and the LPGA’s Ginn Open.

“We regret having to take this legal action but feel we have no other recourse than to try to recover what had been guaranteed to our members through existing agreements with Ginn Companies,” PGA Tour spokesman Ty Votaw said.

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