Phil Mickelson inspiration helps Keegan Bradley
By Mark Lamport-Stokes, Reuters
|Phil Mickelson hits off the seventh tee. (REUTERS/Mike Blake)
An inspired Keegan Bradley took some of the spotlight away from his U.S. Ryder Cup partner and mentor Phil Mickelson by firing a sizzling eight-under-par 63 in the Phoenix Open second round at Scottsdale, Arizona on Friday.
With the pacesetting Mickelson among the day’s late starters, former PGA Championship winner Bradley surged to the top of the leaderboard in dazzling sunshine as he posted a 12-under total of 130 in the Arizona desert.
Bradley mixed seven birdies with an eagle at the 15th and a lone bogey on the Stadium Course at the TPC Scottsdale to finish a stroke in front of Argentina’s Angel Cabrera (65).
Three more Americans - Robert Garrigus, Ryan Moore and John Rollins - were a further stroke back at 10 under after carding matching 66s.
Most eyes, however, were firmly locked on twice champion Mickelson who came within a whisker of becoming the sixth player on the PGA Tour to dip under 60 in the opening round.
The four-times major champion lipped out with a birdie putt from 25 feet on his final hole and had to settle for a 60 and a four-stroke lead.
Mickelson’s advantage remained at four after the frost-delayed first round was completed earlier on Friday but he failed to tighten his grip as he parred his first six holes in the second round.
Bradley, who has been mentored by PGA Tour veteran Mickelson since his rookie season on the U.S. circuit in 2011, felt inspired by his good friend’s red-hot start to the week.
“I spoke to him last night,” Bradley, who won all three matches he played with Mickelson last year in his debut at the Ryder Cup, told Golf Channel.
“I watched the putt on the last hole and found myself cheering for him, just like I did at the Ryder Cup. He gets me excited to play, so I’m really happy to put a low one (score) up there and hopefully see him at the weekend.”
Bradley recorded three birdies and his eagle to reach the turn in five-under 31 after teeing off at the 10th on Friday, but then paid the price for focusing too much on what might be possible in the low-scoring conditions.
“I got a little into my score there at the turn,” said the 26-year-old, who clinched his first major title as a rookie at the 2011 PGA Championship.
“I got a little tight and made a bogey (at the second) and a couple of pretty bad pars, but then I kind of settled back down again.
”I feel so good because I’ve been playing really well and not getting much out of it. I just hope that my partner Phil cannot go too low on me today,“ he added with a broad grin.
The cut was projected to fall at three-under 139 with 2008 Masters champion Trevor Immelman of South Africa, Germany’s former world number one Martin Kaymer and 21-year-old Japanese Ryo Ishikawa among those likely to miss out.