'Stella' round lifts Mickelson at Safeway Open

Fri Oct 14, 2016 10:02pm EDT
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(Reuters) - Fans who bought tickets to the Safeway Open hoping to watch Tiger Woods instead got a pretty good show from Phil Mickelson in northern California on Friday.

Mickelson, the leading drawcard after Woods withdrew on Monday, raved about the quality of his iron shots after a three-under 69 in the second round at Silverado Resort.

Shrugging off intermittent rain, the five-times major champion finished strongly with four birdies in his final six holes to post a six-under 138 halfway total on a day when half the field did not complete the round due to a morning weather delay.

American Scott Piercy led at 14-under after 12 holes when play was halted, while American Bill Haas (70) was the clubhouse leader at eight-under 136.

“Given the conditions, this was some of the best iron play I have ever had,” Mickelson told Golf Channel.

“(I was pleased) to get the distance control right, the trajectory and spin right on spongy greens, and give myself as many birdie opportunities as I had.

“I hit a few wild ones as well. I guess it’s just my normal game.

“I certainly didn’t drive it the way I need to, but that’s my game. I’m not the most accurate guy but put an iron in my hand and I can make some birdies.”

One of the wild ones was the tee shot at the par-three seventh, which he sprayed into a beer stand selling one of Europe’s most famous lagers.   Continued...