Charlotte, N.C. • Phil Mickelson has figured out the secret to the greens at Quail Hollow. Or maybe he's just had a lot of good bounces for two days.
Mickelson opened with a pair of 15-foot birdie putts, dropped in a 40-foot putt at the turn and made back-to-back birdies late in his round Friday. He finished with a 5-under 67 for a two-shot lead going into the weekend at the Wells Fargo Championship.
Quail Hollow, renowned for pristine conditions, had everything go wrong with spring and wound up with putting surfaces that are mostly choppy with brown patches where the grass has died. Two greens were entirely replaced by sod last week. Despite that, Mickelson has taken only 50 putts in two rounds. And the most staggering statistic of all? He hasn't missed from inside 10 feet.
Nick Watney played with Mickelson the opening two rounds and looks efficient, going bogey-free on the back nine. He had a 70 and was at 7-under 137, along with George McNeill (68) and Scott Gardiner, the 37-year-old tour rookie who had missed eight straight cuts coming into the Quail Hollow. Gardiner, the first Aboriginal Australian to become a pro golfer, ran off four straight birdies at the turn and had a 67.
Rory McIlroy struggled with the speed of the greens he felt they were much faster than Thursday but rallied on the front nine with three birdies for a 71. Lee Westwood twice hit into the water on the par-5 seventh and still escaped with a bogey by making a 25-foot putt. He had a 68. They were in a group at 6-under 138 that included Rod Pampling, the ninth alternate and last man in the field.
Thai teen Ariya Jutanugarn followed her opening 7-under 64 with an even-par 71 in windy conditions to hold onto the lead in the LPGA Tour's Kingsmill Championship at Williamsburg, Va.
The 17-year-old Jutanugarn bounced back from three early bogeys with three birdies to finish at 7 under, a shot ahead of second-ranked Stacy Lewis and Angela Stanford on the windswept River Course.
Lewis and Stanford both had their second consecutive 68s, the best rounds of the day. They played in the morning and experienced wind gusts that reached 22 mph.
Sandra Gal, 2007 winner Suzann Pettersen and two-time winner Cristie Kerr were two shots back.
Mike Goodes shot a 3-under 69 in wind that gusted to 30 mph to take a one-stroke lead after the first round of the Champions Tour's Insperity Championship at The Woodlands, Texas.
Only seven players in the 81-man field broke par on an unseasonably cold and blustery day. A gust blew down one scoreboard at The Woodlands Country Club.
Gene Sauers had the lead at 4 under par going into the par 4 17th, but hit a 9-iron into the water for a double bogey and finished at 70. Brian Henninger, Mark Brooks, Hal Sutton, Michael Allen and Mark Bucek were two strokes back at 71.
Wells Fargo Championship
Phil Mickelson -9
Scott Gardiner -7
Nick Watney -7
George McNeill -7
Rory McIlroy -6
Daniel Summerhays -4