Golf roundup: Mickelson leads by two shots at Charlotte; Stanford in LPGA hunt

Posted Friday, May. 03, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Phil Mickelson has figured out the secret to the greens at Quail Hollow. Or maybe he’s just had a lot of good bounces for two days.

Mickelson opened with a pair of 15-foot birdie putts, dropped in a 40-foot putt at the turn and made back-to-back birdies late in his round Friday. He finished with a 5-under 67 for a two-shot lead going into the weekend at the Wells Fargo Championship.

Quail Hollow, renowned for pristine conditions, had everything go wrong with spring and wound up with putting surfaces that are mostly choppy with brown patches where the grass has died. Two greens were entirely replaced by sod last week. Despite that, Mickelson has taken only 50 putts in two rounds. And the most staggering statistic of all? He hasn’t missed from inside 10 feet.

Nick Watney played with Mickelson the opening two rounds and looks efficient, going bogey-free on the back nine. He had a 70 and was at 7-under 137, along with George McNeill (68) and Scott Gardiner, the 37-year-old tour rookie who had missed eight straight cuts coming into the Quail Hollow. Gardiner, the first Aboriginal Australian to become a pro golfer, ran off four straight birdies at the turn and had a 67.

Rory McIlroy struggled with the speed of the greens — he felt they were much faster than Thursday — but rallied on the front nine with three birdies for a 71. Lee Westwood twice hit into the water on the par-5 seventh and still escaped with a bogey by making a 25-foot putt. He had a 68. They were in a group at 6-under 138 that included Rod Pampling, the ninth alternate and last man in the field.

LPGA

Thai teen Ariya Jutanugarn followed her opening 7-under 64 with an even-par 71 in windy conditions to hold onto the lead in the LPGA Tour’s Kingsmill Championship in Williamsburg, Va.

The 17-year-old Jutanugarn bounced back from three early bogeys with three birdies to finish at 7 under, a shot ahead of second-ranked Stacy Lewis and Fort Worth resident Angela Stanford on the windswept River Course.

Lewis and Stanford both had their second consecutive 68s, the best rounds of the day. They played in the morning and experienced wind gusts that reached 22 mph.

Sandra Gal, 2007 winner Suzann Pettersen and two-time winner Cristie Kerr were two shots back.

Champions Tour

Mike Goodes shot a 3-under 69 in wind that gusted to 30 mph to take a one-stroke lead after the first round of the Champions Tour’s Insperity Championship in The Woodlands.

Only seven players in the 81-man field broke par on an unseasonably cold and blustery day. A gust blew down one scoreboard at The Woodlands Country Club.

Gene Sauers had the lead at 4 under par going into the par 4 17th, but hit a 9-iron into the water for a double bogey and finished at 70. Brian Henninger, Mark Brooks, Hal Sutton, Michael Allen and Mark Bucek were two strokes back at 71.

Briefly

•  European: The youngest player to compete on the European Tour missed the cut, while Mikko Ilonen of Finland tied the course record with a 9-under 63 for a three-shot lead at the China Open in Tianjin.

The 12-year-old amateur Ye Wocheng missed the cut at 14 over after a pair of 79s. But China’s Dou Zecheng became the youngest at 16 to make the tournament cut with a 2-under total.

•  Asian Tour: Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand had a 7-under 65 Friday to lead by two shots after the second round of the Indonesian Masters. Thonghchai, a three-time Asian Tour Order of Merit winner, had seven birdies to finish 10-under overall at Royale Jakarta. Scott Barr of Australia trails with a 68, a stroke ahead of countryman Wade Ormsby (68). British Open champion Ernie Els (70) headed a group of five at 6 under.

Inskter exemption: Juli Inkster won’t have to go through qualifying to get back to the U.S. Women’s Open. Inkster was given a special exemption into this year’s U.S. Women’s Open, which will be played June 27-30 at Seabonack Golf Club in New York. Inkster, who is in the World Golf Hall of Fame, turns 53 that week.

She is a two-time winner of the U.S. Women’s Open. The last title came in 2002 at Prairie Dunes, where she rallied from two shots behind to beat Annika Sorenstam. Inkster also won the U.S. Women’s Open at Old Waverly in Mississippi in 1999. That was the year she won two majors in three weeks to complete the career LPGA Grand Slam.

Inkster also won the U.S. Women’s Amateur three straight years.

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