Friday's golf: Spieth solo lead at Colonial; PGA champ Mickelson misses cut

Associated Press
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Fort Worth, Texas — Jordan Spieth has started playing well again just about everywhere he goes. He has always felt comfortable close to home at Colonial, where he is in the lead.

PGA champion Phil Mickelson was headed home to California after he bogeyed two of his last three holes, missing the cut at the Charles Schwab Classic by one stroke.

Jordan Spieth coaxes his ball to the No. 7 cup during the second round of the Charles Schwab Challenge golf tournament at Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, Friday, May 28, 2021.

Spieth was bogey-free again Friday, with a 4-under 66 to take the lead after the second round at 11-under 129 at Hogan's Alley. The Dallas native was one shot ahead of Jason Kokrak, who had his second consecutive round of 65.

“I’m in a good spot at a familiar place,” Spieth said.

Mickelson, who turns 51 on June 16, became the oldest winner of a golf major at the PGA Championship last weekend. But Lefty finished 2 over at Colonial after his second-round 69, which included three birdies in a four-hole stretch to end his front nine.

But Mickelson's 7-foot par chance at the par-3 16th rolled over the left edge and did a half-circle around the cup without going in. With the sun shining through the clouds, his have-to-make 10-footer on No. 18 slid just left of the hole.

Mickelson left the course almost immediately after that, telling a PGA Tour official on his way out that he enjoyed his time at the tournament. The two-time Colonial champion said he hated that he wouldn't be around for the weekend.

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Sergio Garcia (69), the first-round co-leader with Spieth whose first PGA Tour win came at Colonial 20 years ago, was tied for third at 8 under with Sebastian Munoz and Patton Kizzire, who both shot 65 Friday. Munoz had six birdies on the back nine, including the final three holes after a double bogey at No. 15.

Kokrak, Garcia and Munoz were in the morning wave of players who all finished before a weather delay of 2 hours and 26 minutes during the afternoon.

A steady drizzle started about the same time Spieth, Mickelson and defending champion Daniel Berger teed off at No. 1 to start their second round together. Mickelson had a bogey on the opening par-5.

The rain had pretty much stopped before play was suspended because of lightning nearby from a weather system producing heavy storms south of the course. At that point, Mickelson was in a greenside bunker at No. 3, with Spieth 23 feet from the cup on the same hole.

Mickelson’s first shot when play resumed nearly 2 1/2 hours later was a blast to set up a par-saving 7-foot putt. Spieth rolled in his second consecutive birdie.

“I came out of the rain delay and I made a nice putt on 3, and really felt like I had a chance to birdie almost every hole on that front nine and even into the back nine,” Spieth said. “But I didn’t swing it as well. I wasn’t really completing it and it wasn’t feeling great. I knew I was going to kind of have to manage my way around the golf course a little bit, and fortunately did a really great job of that.”

More:Thursday's golf: Spieth, Garcia open with 63s at Colonial; Mickelson 10 back

Spieth is playing in his 11th tournament since missing the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open at the end of January. His seven top-10 finishes since then match his total in 40 events the previous two seasons combined. He won the Valero Texas Open, his first victory since the 2017 British Open. He won in 2016 at Colonial, where he has two runner-up finishes and three others in the top 10.

Kokrak still hits the ball a long way, and now has a long putter when on the greens. The 35th-ranked player in the world, who is 6-foot-4 and has made the FedEx Cup playoff the past eight seasons, switched to a putter with a 36-inch shaft this season..

“I was 190th in putting but I was a top five ball-striker, so I concentrated more on the putter as of late, and you know, it’s been hot,” he said. “But you know, I still want to concentrate on the ball-striking. I’ve been struggling with the driver, so I think finding a driver this week that I’m comfortable with, it’s gone a long way.”

His best back-to-back rounds this year, with six birdies and a bogey in each round, are on the Colonial course where he had his best finish last season. He tied for third last June in the Charles Schwab Challenge that marked the PGA Tour's resumption of competition after a 12-week pause because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since then, the 36-year-old Kokrak got his first career victory in the CJ Cup at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas in October.

The low round of the day was a season-best 62 by Charlie Hoffman, who overcame an early bogey at No. 3, when his approach missed the green after a drive into the rough. He had four consecutive birdies, at Nos. 14-17, before a par-saver with a chip to 2 feet at No. 18.

Hoffman, who had an opening 71, was tied for sixth at 7-under 133.

Senior PGA 

Mike Weir opened a four-stroke lead Friday in the Senior PGA Championship with a 5-under 65 on a tough Southern Hills layout that baffled most of the players.

That moved the Canadian to 7 under through 36 holes, with Steve Stricker (68), Rocco Mediate (69) and John Riegger at 3 under. Riegger had three holes left when play was called because of darkness at 8:31 p.m. Weir completed his round just minutes earlier.

Weir won the Insperity Invitational in Houston early this month for his first PGA Tour Champions victory. The left-hander made six birdies against one bogey. His longest birdie putt was only 10 feet and he made difficult par saves on holes Nos. 7, 8 and 9 — his closing holes — to remain separated from the field.

“It was a really fun round of golf,” Weir said. “It’s a very demanding golf course, so when you have your opportunities and take advantage of them you feel good because you know you’re going to be fighting for some pars on some holes, which I was coming in and made a couple nice par putts to finish off the round nicely.

“But all aspects of my game were a little bit sharper today. I drove it a little better than yesterday and the putting was still solid. I hit some iron shots a little closer to the hole today than yesterday and that’s why I got to 5 under.”

Weir’s tee shot on the par-4 seventh stopped a yard from bouncing into a creek, and he made a 9-foot putt to save par. He hit a long bunker shot on the par-3 eighth hole to a few inches. He polished it off with a 5-foot par putt on his final hole.

Stricker began and ended a long day with consecutive bogeys, but still managed to walk off the course with what was then a share of the lead at 3 under. He had 11 holes to complete from his first round and quickly went back out for the second round in windier but drier conditions.

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Apparently the disappointing start and finish made it hard to remember all that transpired in between. Asked what club and distance he had on 10 when he holed out from the fairway for an eagle that took him to 5 under, he had a blank look and had to be reminded by the moderator that he made an eagle there.

“Oh. Forgot I did that,” Stricker said. “I had like 107 yards, I think to the hole and right in between clubs, so I just took a wedge and just tried to skip it up the hill there a little bit. And that’s just a bonus, you don’t expect to do anything like that. But it was a nice shot and got me going. “

Mediate also made an eagle from the fairway, hitting a 9-iron from 138 yards into the cup on his third shot on the par-5 fifth hole to move from 2 over back to even par. He then added birdies on Nos. 7 and 8 to play his last five in 4 under.

“I made a few bogeys, but holed a 9-iron on 5 that kind of turned the whole world around,” Mediate said. “It was just one of those things that happens. And then I finished pretty good after that. I was playing OK, a couple over, but it’s easy to do that around this place, this place is total championship golf. It’s really good.”

Stricker’s group included South Africans Ernie Els and Retief Goosen, who won the 2001 U.S. Open at Southern Hills. It drew a large share of the estimated crowd of 8,000 attending on a sunny day with temperatures in the low 70s and a light northerly breeze.

Els made eagle on the drivable par-4 17th and shot even-par 70 to remain at 3 over. Goosen shot 72 and was 1 over. Defending champion from 2019 Ken Tanigawa missed the cut at 8 over (73-75).

LPGA

Danielle Kang had Lizette Salas over to the house Thursday night to watch “Friends: The Reunion,” then sent her packing Friday in the LPGA Match Play.

Kang won the friendly showdown 4 and 3 for a quarterfinal spot on another hot afternoon at Shadow Creek.

“To be honest with you, it doesn’t feel that great,” Kang said. “I really wanted to win. I wanted to advance and play this weekend. ... But all in all, any time she missed a putt my heart just dropped because I want her to make them. I know she’s playing against me and it was definitely different. I knew this was going to be very stressful for me.”

An ambassador for course owner MGM Resorts, Kang won the opening hole with a par, took Nos. 6 and 7 with birdies and No. 8 with a par for a 4-up lead. Salas won 10 and 11 with pars, Kang took 12 with a birdie and ended it with a par on 14.

“I made some really great putts today,” Kang said. “I had some crazy putts go in.”

U.S. Solheim Cup teammate Salas was coming off her best finish of the year, a tie for fifth last week in the Pure Silk Championship in Virginia.

“She’s my teammate and always has my back and I’ve got hers,” Kang said. “I can’t wait to play with her as a teammate again.”

Kang will face Bronte Law, a 6 and 5 winner over Annie Park.

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Second-ranked Inbee Park, also an area resident, beat Gaby Lopez 2 and 1 to set up a match with Sophia Popov.

“Every day is getting a little bit better with the game,” Park said. "And making little more birdies every day, so I feel like my game is coming along. It feels good to move on and play the weekend.”

Popov routed Sung Hyun Park 6 and 5.

“I think that’s the first goal, to make it out of the group phase, make it to the weekend,” Popov said. “I took care of business in that way.”

Top-ranked Jin Young Ko and No. 3 Sei Young Kim dropped out in playoffs.

Anna Nordqvist beat Ko 5 and 4 to force a playoff with Ko that the Swede won on the first hole. Kim edged Brittany Altomare 2 and 1 to force a playoff with the American, then fell on the second hole.

ANA Inspiration winner Patty Tavatanakit beat Stacy Lewis 5 and 4 to advance. After Lewis birdied the ninth to pull within a hole, Tavatanakit won four of the next five to end the match. They entered the day tied for the group lead.

“It’s a great feeling walking off the course today only playing 14 holes,” Tavatanakit said. “Long weekend ahead, so a lot of positives here. ... Just keep making pars. This course is such a beast that if you make par eventually you’ll get your point.”

Ariya Jutanugarn beat Sarah Schmelzel on the first hole of a playoff after tying Carlota Ciganda.

While some top U.S. players skipped the first-year event to prepare for the U.S. Women’s Open next week at Olympic in San Francisco, Kang said she isn't looking ahead.

“Crazy as it sounds, I’m not thinking about next week at all,” Kang said. “I been really looking forward to this week since it was announced. ... It’s just been really exciting to play at a home golf course. I’ve never done that.”

Kang won in consecutive weeks last summer in Ohio in the LPGA Tour’s return from the coronavirus pandemic. She has five tour victories — the first in 2017 in the major KPMG Women’s PGA Championship — and showed her match-play prowess in U.S. Women’s Amateur wins in 2010 and 2011.

“I just really like being able to focus on one person,” Kang said. “I know that a lot of times when we play stroke play we have to play to the field, which means you have to focus on your game and do what you need to do and see where you end up. Here, I just have to beat one person and they’re right in front of me. It’s easier to be aggressive and attack and do what I need to do.”

European Tour

Defending champion Bernd Wiesberger was two shots clear of fellow Austrian golfer Matthias Schwab on top of the second round leaderboard at the Made in HimmerLand on Friday.

Wiesberger carded a 6-under 65 after an opening 66 to be 11 under overall. His round included seven birdies and a bogey.

He won the European Tour event in 2019 and it was canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic.

Alexander Bjork of Sweden was third at 8 under after a 63 which included a hole in one on the par-3 16th.

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