By JOHN NICHOLSON
2014-02-01 11:01 AM
SCOTTSDALE, Arizona (AP) -- Bubba Watson and Matt Jones shared the lead at the halfway mark of the Phoenix Open while Phil Mickelson overcame a back injury to make the cut on Friday.
A week after withdrawing from Torrey Pines because of back pain, Mickelson shot a 4-under 67 in his afternoon round at cool and breezy TPC Scottsdale. The defending champion was eight strokes behind Watson and Jones.
"I'm not totally out of it," Mickelson said. "I'd like to be closer, but as we have seen in the past, there is that 8-, 9-, 10-, in some cases 11-under par round out there."
Indeed, the three-time champion has shot 11-under 60 twice in the event, in the second round in his 2005 victory and last year in the first round.
Watson, the long-hitting left-hander who won the 2012 Masters, followed his opening 64 with a 66 to reach 12 under. Jones, the Australian who counts as something of a local, having played at Arizona State University and who lives in Scottsdale, had his second straight 65.
"It's right where I want to be going into the weekend," Watson said.
Harris English and Greg Chalmers shot 67 to reach 10 under, and Pat Perez, Kevin Stadler and Hideki Matsuyama were 9 under. Matsuyama had a 67, and Perez and Stadler shot 68.
Watson could have held the outright lead but made a bogey on his final hole after his wedge approach spun off the green.
"I had two sloppy bogeys coming down the stretch, but I will take it," Watson said.
Despite the cooler weather, the tournament set an attendance record for the third straight day with an estimated crowd of 123,674. Since Monday, an estimated 313,054 people have attended the event. The seven-day record of 538,356 was set in 2008.
Jones birdied four of his last six holes. Though he is a regular at the course, but does not consider that an advantage.
"The golf course is so different tournament week than it is when you play out here regularly," Jones said. "It's a lot harder, a lot faster. The greens are a lot quicker. The pins are a lot more tucked out here. So, it's like a new golf course when you come here for a tournament."
Brandt Snedeker had the best round of the day, a 64 in the morning to reach 8 under.
"My putting, plain and simple," Snedeker said. "I hit the ball extra good yesterday and had some of the worst putting I had all year. Today, I kind of did the opposite."
La Quinta winner Patrick Reed also was 8 under after his second 67. Playing alongside Watson, Reed hit to a foot for a birdie on the par-3 16th stadium hole.
Making a statement about the PGA Tour's decision to ban caddie races to the green on the rowdy hole, players Robert Garrigus and Morgan Hoffman sprinted to the putting surface. Garrigus made a birdie, and Hoffman had a bogey.
Keegan Bradley followed his opening 66 with an 80, The score was the second-worst of his PGA Tour career, following an 82 last year in the Masters. He made a triple-bogey 8 on No. 3 and had eight bogeys and two birdies.