Mickelson leads Travelers in first event since turning 50

Mickelson leads Travelers in first event since turning 50

Mickelson leads Travelers in first event since turning 50

CROMWELL, Conn. — Phil Mickelson figures age might be an asset.

Playing his first tournament since turning 50 this month, the five-time major champion shot a 7-under 63 on Friday in the Travelers Championship to take a one-stroke lead into the weekend.

Lefty said said it was perhaps the wisdom that comes with his age that made him stay within himself instead of going toe-to-toe with his long-hitting playing partners, top-ranked Rory McIlroy and Bryson DeChambeau.

“There’s some holes I can open it up and try to hit driver, but really I just want to get it in play on a lot of holes and let my wedges take over, and I’ve hit a lot of good wedge shots this week,” said Mickelson, the 2001 and 2002 tournament winner.

Two more players withdrew because of the coronavirus Friday — Denny McCarthy for a positive test, and Bud Cauley, who tested negative, but decided to pull out after playing alongside McCarthy on Thursday. There have been seven COVID-19-related withdrawals.

First-round leader Mackenzie Hughes of Dundas, Ont., followed an opening 60 with a 68 to drop into a second-place tie with 23-year-old Will Gordon, who led most of the day after shooting an early 62.

Since winning at Pebble Beach early last year for his 44th PGA Tour title, Mickelson has mostly struggled, with far more missed cuts than good finishes.

On Friday at tree-lined TPC River Highlands, Mickelson made a bogey on his second hole before moving up the leaderboard. He made the first of his eight birdies from a green-side bunker on No. 5 and shot 30 on the back nine.

While Mickelson is making his 624th PGA Tour start, Gordon is in his eighth tour event on a sponsor’s exemption.

He had nine birdies and just missed a few others, including on the fourth hole where his 35-foot birdie putt came to rest on the edge of the cup.

The former Vanderbilt star is carrying on a long tradition of young players who received a break at TPC River Highlands. Since 1996, 77 of the tournament’s 98 unrestricted sponsor invitations have gone to players with fewer than 15 starts on the tour and those players have gone on to combine for 90 victories.

“I was supposed to play in three events that got cancelled over COVID, so for those guys to take a chance on me and believe in me means the world,” he said.

McIlroy followed his first-round 63 with a 68. He was tied for fourth, four strokes off the lead and happy to be in contention.

“I know what it feels like to go low out here, so I’ll need a couple of good ones over the weekend,” he said. “But the game feels in decent shape, and obviously get out early tomorrow and try to get back in the mix.

DeChambeau, the third member of the marquee trio, had the most entertaining round of the three. He was 8 under after a 67 that included the strangest bogey of the day.

His tee shot on the par-4 10th hole hit the cart path, rolled and rolled and ended up 428 yards from the tee and 48 yards from the hole.

But after pitching over the green, then chipping back well short of the hole, he missed a 7-foot putt.

“I tried to hit a 35-yard shot and it came out 50 yards, and I’m like, `What is going on?’” he said. There’s some things I’ve still got to work out and some stuff I clearly don’t understand yet with the wedging.”

McCarthy, who shot an opening-round 67, said he began began feeling sick Thursday night and tested positive for the virus Friday morning.

“I woke up in the middle of the night with additional aches and soreness and sensed something was off,” he said. “I felt like the only thing to do was get tested at that point before I went to the course.”

Cauley, who opened with a 69, had two negative tests Friday. He withdrew “out of an abundance of caution for my peers and everyone involved with the tournament,” he said.

Matt Wallace, the third member of their group, teed off by himself early Friday, shot a 72 to miss the cut.

“I haven’t felt better myself,” he said. “I’m playing with a chance to change my career if I win, so why wouldn’t I play? It’s black and white for me. I tested negative and I can go play.”

McCarthy was the third PGA Tour player to test positive for the virus since its restart and the second this week, joining Cameron Champ, who withdrew Tuesday.

Nick Watney withdrew just before the second round of last week’s RBC Heritage Championship. Webb Simpson, Graeme McDowell, Brooks Koepka and his brother Chase also withdrew from the Travelers after coming into contact with people who had the virus.

McDowell and Brooks Koepka’s caddies both tested positive. Simpson cited the positive test of a family member.

Collin Morikawa, also is heading home, but not because of COVID-19. The 23-year-old Californian missed the cut for the first time in his PGA Tour career after rounds of 72-71.

Morikawa had made 22 straight cuts since turning pro, the longest such streak since Tiger Woods began his PGA Tour career with 25 consecutive cuts.

“It was bound to happen at some point,” Morikawa said. “Who knows when that was going to be. But now I guess we’re going to stop talking about it and I can go and just go on to next week. I’m going to learn a lot from this week.”

Roger Sloan of Merritt, B.C., is the only other Canadian to make the weekend at 4 under following a 1-under 69.

Corey Conners of Listowel, Ont., shot 66 Friday to move to 1 under, missing the 4-under cutline, while David Hearn of Brantford, Ont., shot his second straight 72 to finish 4 over.

There is rain in the forecast for Saturday, with the players grouped in threesomes and started on the first and 10th tees.

__

More AP golf: https://apnews.com/apf-Golf and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Pat Eaton-Robb, The Associated Press

Sports

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
Three new COVID-19 deaths in Central zone, Alberta under 10,000 active cases

The Central zone sits at 849 active cases, with 52 people in hospital and 10 in the ICU.

(File photo)
After several years in limbo, Parkland Manor to be torn down

Rimoka Housing Foundation has received funding and approval for the demolition

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced 16 additional deaths Thursday. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
No easing of Alberta’s COVID-19 measures Thursday, 678 new COVID-19 cases

The province also hit 1,500 COVID-19 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said the Canadian government should consider sanctions on the U.S. if they refuse to reconsider the decision to cancel the Keystone XL Pipeline. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Keystone XL officially cancelled, Kenney vows to fight on

U.S. President Joe Biden cancelled the presidential permit for the pipeline on first day of office

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said province’s test positivity rate for COVID-19 is steadily declining. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
669 new COVID-19 cases in Alberta, 21 additional deaths

COVID-19 test positivity rate down to 4.5 per cent

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, updates media on the COVID-19 situation in Edmonton, Friday, March 20, 2020. Hinshaw says residents in long-term care and supportive living facilities will remain the priority as the province grapples with a looming slowdown in COVID-19 vaccine supply. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta long-term care residents remain priority in looming slowdown of COVID vaccine

There are 119 patients in intensive care and 1,463 people have died

Black Press File Photo
Maskwacis RCMP lay charges for attempted murder, kidnapping, and flight from police

Female victim remains in hospital in serious condition.

In this Dec. 18, 2020 photo, pipes to be used for the Keystone XL pipeline are stored in a field near Dorchester, Neb.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP
‘Gut punch’: Alberta Premier Jason Kenney blasts Biden on revoked Keystone XL permit

Kenney said he was upset the U.S. wouldn’t consult with Canada first before acting

Joe Biden, then the U.S. vice-president, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau take their seats at the start of the First Ministers and National Indigenous Leaders meeting in Ottawa, Friday, Dec. 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau, Biden to talk today as death of Keystone XL reverberates in Canada

President Joe Biden opposed the Keystone XL expansion as vice-president under Barack Obama

Prince Edward Island’s provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, Friday July 3, 2020. A lozenge plant in Prince Edward Island has laid off 30 workers, citing an “almost non-existent” cold and cough season amid COVID-19 restrictions. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Almost non-existent’ cold and cough season: P.E.I. lozenge plant lays off 30 workers

The apparent drop in winter colds across the country seems to have weakened demand for medicine and natural remedies

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette takes the royal salute from the Guard of Honour as she makes her way deliver the the throne speech, Wednesday, September 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Gov. Gen. Julie Payette resigns, apologizes for ‘tensions’ at Rideau Hall

Payette, who is the Queen’s representative in Canada, has been the governor general since 2017

Grounded WestJet Boeing 737 Max aircraft are shown at the airline’s facilities in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, May 7, 2019. WestJet will operate the first commercial Boeing 737 Max flight in Canada today since the aircraft was grounded in 2019 following two deadly crashes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Passengers unfazed as WestJet returns Boeing 737 Max to service on Calgary flight

After a lengthy review process, Transport Canada cleared the plane to return to Canadian airspace

(Photo submitted)
Community Futures brings back Social Media Challenge for 2021

This time the challenge is for non-profits and community groups

Lucas Berg, left, with the backpacks filled with essential items he donated to the Red Deer Mustard Seed Jan. 19, 2021. (Photo submitted)
Central Alberta teenager donates filled 20 backpacks to Red Deer Mustard Seed

Lucas Berg, 14, of Ponoka County says he ‘just wants to help people’

Most Read