Mickelson's strong start includes 28 on his front nine
Phil Mickelson keeps saying how much he loves playing with Tiger Woods. He shot 63 at the Deutsche Bank Championship to prove it. In a feature grouping of the top three players in the world ranking, Mickelson turned in the star performance Friday morning at Norton, Mass., with a 28 on his opening nine holes.
By the end of the day, when he played a risky shot from deep in the trees on his final hole to salvage bogey, he was happy to have a share of the lead. Mickelson was tied with Brian Davis, who made a 25-foot birdie putt on the last hole to join him at 8-under 63.
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"What Phil did today was pretty impressive," Woods said after a 68 that only seemed worse considering the company he kept.
Masters champion Adam Scott, rounding out the 1-2-3 pairing, struggled to a 73 and joked later that he rolled out of the wrong side of the bed. "I wish could have gotten in their jet stream," Scott said.
Mickelson did everything right.
He started his round on the TPC Boston by making birdie putts of 20 feet on No. 10 and 30 feet on No. 11. He ended the front nine with five straight birdies, only the second nine-hole score of 28 on the PGA Tour this year. And even after a bogey from the bunker on No. 1, he hit a 6-iron from 213 yards that settled just more than a foot away for eagle on the next hole. That put him at 8 under for his round with seven holes to play.
"It was a good start," he said. "I got off to a great front nine and somewhat stalled on the back. But after shooting 7 under the first nine, it was going to be a good round as long as I didn't mess it up."
Josh Teater, who played in high school at Henry Clay and in college at Morehead State, opened with a 1-under 70 and was tied for 56th. His round included four birdies and three bogeys.
■ Patrick Cantlay grabbed a share of the second-round lead in the Hotel Fitness Championship at Fort Wayne, Ind., a week after the former UCLA star squandered a chance to wrap up a PGA Tour card. Cantlay shot a 7-under 65 to match former Masters winner Trevor Immelman and Web.com Tour money champion Michael Putnam at 11-under 133 at Sycamore Hills in the Web.com Tour Finals opener.
Cantlay missed the cut last week in the Cox Classic in Omaha, Neb., to drop from 25th to 29th on the Web.com Tour money list. The top 25 after that event secured PGA Tour cards for the 2013-14 season, while Nos. 26-75 are fighting with Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings for 25 additional cards in the four-event Web.com Tour Finals series.
■ Rocco Mediate eagled two of the final four holes to take the first-round lead in the Champions Tour's inaugural Shaw Charity Classic at Calgary, Alberta.
■ Pornanong Phatlum birdied three of her last four holes to maintain a one-stroke lead after the second round of the Safeway Classic at Portland, Ore. The 23-year-old Phatlum, winless in five seasons on the LPGA Tour, followed her opening 8-under 64 with a 66 for a tournament-record 14-under 130.
■ Former University of Kentucky golfer Ashleigh Albrecht tied for 17th in Stage I of LPGA Tour qualifying at Racho Mirage, Calif. She'll join fellow ex-Cat Mallory Blackwelder in Stage II (of 3) of qualifying in October at Venice, Fla.
Stenhouse claims 1st Cup pole at Atlanta
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won the first Sprint Cup pole of his career at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Stenhouse turned a lap of 189.688 mph Friday night on the 1.54 tri-oval. His previous best qualifying run was third at Kansas this season.
Carl Edwards, a teammate of Stenhouse at Roush Fenway Racing, was second-fastest at 189.021, giving him a starting spot on the outside of the front row for Sunday night's race.
■ Kyle Larson was named to replace Juan Pablo Montoya in the No. 42 car at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing. EGR dumped Montoya after only two wins in eight Sprint Cup seasons. The former Indianapolis 500 winner and Formula One driver is 22nd in the Cup standings. The 21-year-old Larson ranks eighth in the Nationwide standings as a rookie. He has never competed in a Cup race, but team owner Chip Ganassi hopes to get the youngster some experience in the final 12 races of the season.
Djokovic and Murray tested, but advance
Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray have met in three of the last four Grand Slam finals, though if they play in the U.S. Open this year, it will be in the semis. Each took a step forward Friday, shaky at moments and sensational in others, in second-round victories. The top-seeded Djokovic faced two early set points, while defending champion Murray had to go four sets in New York.
Leonardo Mayer, ranked 81st, ran Murray all over the court, but the third-seeded Brit excels at chasing down shots. Murray won the last five games for a 7-5, 6-1, 3-6, 6-1 victory.
After pulling out the first set in a tiebreaker, Djokovic needed less than an hour to close out his victory. The 2011 champion beat 87th-ranked Benjamin Becker 7-6 (2), 6-2, 6-2. Becker had a chance to serve for the first set against Djokovic at 5-4. But he wasted the first set point with a forehand into the net and the second when a backhand sailed wide.
Power knock out Legends 10-2
West Virginia starter Tyler Glasgow pitched five no-hit innings and the Power went on to defeat the Lexington Legends 10-2 on Friday night at Whitaker Bank Ballpark. Legends starter Greg Billo (3-3, 1.35 ERA) gave up four runs (two earned) on six hits.
The last word
The millions of dollars the NFL is ready to pay former players sounds great, until you stretch it out over 20 years and divide it among thousands of people. Which is why some former players think the league is getting off cheap in its tentative settlement with victims of concussion-related brain injuries. The deal announced Thursday is awaiting approval by a federal judge in Philadelphia. Former players union president and Pro Bowl center Kevin Mawae complained that the NFL does not have to admit culpability:
"The unfortunate thing is that the general fan, they see $765 million and they think it's a windfall for the players. It's great for ... the guys that would fall in the category of needing immediate help. But it's $700 million worth of hush money that they will never have to be accountable for."