Mickelson on par for lead

SUN WIRE SERVICES

, Last Updated: 7:05 AM ET

At Ponte Vedra, Fla., Phil Mickelson rarely found the fairway, twice knocked down flags and nearly holed out from the fairway. Despite all those thrills, what kept him in the lead yesterday at the Players Championship was a couple of pars.

Just about every player who had at least a share of the lead stumbled in the end, some worse than others.

Mickelson found dry land on the island-green 17th, then saved par from the right rough on the closing hole at TPC Sawgrass for an even-par 72 that gave him a one-shot lead over Nathan Green of Australia.

Defending champion Stephen Ames of Calgary won't win this year. He shot a 79 and missed the cut.

Mike Weir (72) of Bright's Grove is eight strokes off the lead.

Peter Lonard took two double bogeys on his back nine, Carl Petterson finished bogey-bogey and Sean O'Hair three-putted the 18th to lose costly shots, leaving them two shots behind and chasing Mickelson, who was happy only with his position.

"It was a day that if I played well, I could have pulled away," Mickelson said after finishing at 5-under 139, the first time he has had the lead at The Players going into the weekend. "I'm half disappointed and half okay."

Tiger Woods tried to fight back, but he did a better job with his words than his clubs.

Woods finally picked up a birdie on his second hole, but he spent most of the sunny afternoon wondering if he would make the cut. He wasn't in the clear until a two-putt birdie on the 16th hole, dry land on the 17th and another par save for a 73, leaving him at 4-over 148 to make it by one stroke.

His best shot was directed at Rory Sabbatini, who said Thursday that the world's No. 1 player looked "as beatable as ever" and that he likes the "new Tiger" who struggles with his swing.

"If I remember the quote correctly, he said he likes the new Tiger," Woods said. "I figure I've won nine of 12 (PGA Tour events), and I've won three times this year -- the same amount he's won in his career. So, I like the new Tiger, as well."

Sabbatini didn't understand all the fuss.

"I never intended it as a dig at Tiger. I basically stated that I want to compete against him," he said. "He is the No. 1 player in the world, and I think I have the ability to get to No. 1 in the world, and that's where I want to contend."

Both of them have their work cut out.

Sabbatini looked like a day-old Tiger by failing to make a birdie. He still was in the mix until he stepped to the 17th tee and deposited two balls in the water -- one from the drop area -- on his way to a quadruple-bogey 7 and a 79.

LEE BEATS JITTERS

At Williamsburg, Pa., Sarah Lee shook off some pre-round nerves and avoided the mistakes that plagued most everyone else, shooting a bogey-free, 3-under 68 to take a two-shot lead over Becky Morgan halfway through the Michelob Ultra Open.

Morgan had just one blip on her card -- a bogey from a bunker on the par-4 14th -- but followed that with four birdies in five holes. Her 65 left her at 9-under 133, two better than Amy Hung, who had a 68 after making bogeys on two of her first three holes.

Carin Koch (69) and Jimin Kang, who matched Morgan for the best round of the day with her 65 on the 6,306-yard River Course, were tied for fourth at 6-under.

Charlottetown's Lorie Kane led the Canadian contingent, rising into a tie for 31st at 2-under following a second-round 72. Alena Sharp of Hamilton shot a 68 to move into a tie for 39th at 1-under. Dawn Coe-Jones of Lake Cowichan, B.C. (4 over) and A.J. Eathorne of Penticton, B.C. (6 over) missed the 36-hole cut.

WESTWOOD SETS MARK

At Marbella, Spain, Louis Oosthuizen held a one-stroke lead after the second round of the Andalucia Open, while Lee Westwood carded a course record 8-under 64. Oosthuizen had a 20-foot birdie putt at the 18th to finish his round with 5-under 67 and a total of 10-under 134.


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