Unstoppable Mickelson sets new records in Atlanta

Phil Mickelson was in a league of his own in Atlanta as he produced the lowest 36-hole score of his 15-year US Tour career.

Phil Mickelson was in a league of his own in Atlanta as he produced the lowest 36-hole score of his 15-year US Tour career.

The defending champion added a 65 to his course record-equalling opening 63 to enjoy a 16 under par mark of 128 at the BellSouth Classic. He now holds a massive six-stroke lead over fellow American JJ Henry.

It was a heartbreaking round for Irishman Pádraig Harrington however. He climbed into a tie for sixth place on six under at one point, only to crash to a quadruple bogey eight on the 434-yard 12th.

That included two penalty shots, first after he hit a wild drive into the woods and then when he found the creek short of the green.

Three-putting as well dropped him 30 places, but to the Dubliner’s credit he did birdie the next two holes and another at the last gave him a 71 to end up at five under, joint 12th overall.

“Sometimes you need a kick up the backside – but a bogey would have been enough,” said Harrington. “All day my focus was not good and something like that was coming.”

Two holes earlier he, Donald and Retief Goosen had been spoken to about their speed of play.

Harrington was not alone in having an eight on his scorecard. Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose did the same as they missed the cut along with Graeme McDowell - the Ulsterman’s fourth missed cut out of four in America this year.

Mickelson’s halfway total also set a new tournament record, but he has no fears about peaking too soon for Augusta.

Even though Sandy Lyle in 1988 was the last player to win the Masters having won the week before, world number four Mickelson said: “I want to play as well as I can – it only breeds more confidence.

“I felt I was trying to make birdie every hole. Those rounds are few and far between for me, but I love them when they occur.

“I don’t go into any round expecting to shoot 63 or 65, but I felt I was hitting the ball well and making a couple of putts early set the tone for the day.

“Following one low round with another is not the easiest thing to do, but I kept the ball in play and was able to attack.

“Hopefully I will continue to play well and take the momentum to Augusta next week.”

Jose Maria Olazabal, who lost a play-off to Mickelson in the same event a year ago, returned a flawless 64 to become the leading European contender. Having started the day 47th, he stormed up the leaderboard to finish in third on nine under.

Olazabal commented: “He must be playing really great golf. It makes it difficult to catch him unless we play awesome.

“I still don’t feel comfortable with my driver, but I putted better without question and my attitude has been pretty good, which is important.”

The pair both teed off at the same time, but on different halves and it was soon a case of “anything you can do I can do too.”

Olazabal birdied three of his first four holes, but so did Mickelson. Olazabal turned in 32, but so did Mickelson. Olazabal quickly grabbed three more birdies, but so did Mickelson.

The only difference came right at the end, with the Spanish star finishing things off with a two-putt birdie – his eighth of the round – at the 18th.

Collated second round scores & totals in the USPGA Tour BellSouth Classic, TPC at Sugarloaf, Atlanta, Georgia, USA (USA unless stated, par 72):

128 Phil Mickelson 63 65

134 JJ Henry 69 65

135 Jose Maria Olazabal (Spa) 71 64

136 Gavin Coles (Aus) 64 72

137 Charles Warren 65 72, Jonathan Byrd 69 68, Shane Bertsch 68 69

138 Duffy Waldorf 72 66, Ian Poulter (Gbr) 66 72, Ryuji Imada (Jpn) 71 67, Luke Donald (Gbr) 68 70

139 Dudley Hart 70 69, David Howell (Gbr) 67 72, Brian Gay 70 69, Zach Johnson 69 70, Joe Durant 66 73, Chris Smith 69 70, Retief Goosen (Rsa) 69 70, Padraig Harrington (Irl) 68 71, Steve Flesch 71 68, Mark Wilson 68 71, Will MacKenzie 69 70, BJ Staten 70 69

140 Larry Mize 71 69, Davis Love 71 69, Marco Dawson 72 68, Boyd Summerhays 68 72, Brent Geiberger 70 70, Roger Tambellini 69 71

141 Alex Cejka (Ger) 71 70, Wes Short 69 72, Doug Barron 74 67, Rich Beem 69 72, Jason Bohn 71 70, Stewart Cink 72 69, Briny Baird 72 69, Todd Fischer 70 71, Franklin Langham 70 71, Brett Wetterich 67 74

142 Dean Wilson 70 72, Fredrik Jacobson (Swe) 70 72, Sean O’Hair 72 70, Arron Oberholser 70 72, Tim Clark (Rsa) 73 69, Tom Byrum 69 73, Jerry Smith 70 72, Billy Andrade 70 72, Matt Kuchar 68 74, Donnie Hammond 72 70, Shingo Katayama (Jpn) 75 67

143 Stephen Leaney (Aus) 68 75, Scott McCarron 72 71, David Toms 75 68, Jonathan Kaye 73 70, Steve Lowery 72 71, Robert Garrigus 75 68, Tjaart van der Walt (Rsa) 75 68, Charley Hoffman 71 72, Scott Parel 66 77, David Branshaw 72 71, Jeff Overton 71 72, Mike Sposa 72 71, Phil Tataurangi (Nzl) 71 72, Steve Jones 70 73, Jeff Gove 72 71

144 Hidemichi Tanaka (Jpn) 75 69, Greg Chalmers (Aus) 73 71, Kevin Na 73 71, Jeff Brehaut 69 75, Mathias Gronberg (Swe) 71 73, Thomas Levet (Fra) 76 68, Bubba Dickerson 72 72, Greg Kraft 72 72, Richard Johnson (Swe) 73 71, Bo Van Pelt 70 74, Frank Lickliter 74 70, Danny Ellis 68 76, Ron Whittaker 72 72, Sonny Skinner 75 69

The following players have missed the halfway cut:

145 Bob Tway 71 74, Rory Sabbatini (Rsa) 73 72, Olin Browne 72 73, Brandt Jobe 73 72, DJ Trahan 69 76, Jon Mills 73 72, Brett Quigley 70 75, JB Holmes 70 75, Ian Leggatt (Can) 71 74, Omar Uresti 73 72, Chris Couch 73 72

146 Chris Riley 73 73, James Driscoll 76 70, Brian Bateman 71 75, Miguel Angel Jimenez (Spa) 71 75, Kris Cox 71 75, Nick Cassini 75 71, Corey Pavin 72 74, Scott Dunlap 73 73, Daniel Chopra (Swe) 73 73, Jason Schultz 73 73, DA Points 72 74

147 Matthew Goggin (Aus) 74 73, Kevin Sutherland 77 70, Nick O’Hern (Aus) 70 77, Nicholas Thompson 75 72, Matt Hansen 74 73, Bill Haas 71 76, Kent Jones 74 73, Troy Matteson 72 75, Graeme McDowell (Irl) 73 74, Patrick Sheehan 72 75, Paul Stankowski 70 77, Alex Aragon 74 73, Hunter Mahan 74 73, John Engler 72 75

148 Ryan Hietala 74 74, Jerry Kelly 71 77, Bubba Watson 72 76, Craig Parry (Aus) 73 75, Jay Williamson 73 75

149 Vance Veazey 74 75, Lee Janzen 70 79, John Huston 71 78, Joey Sindelar 73 76, Arjun Atwal (Ind) 73 77, Jimmy Walker 73 76

151 Billy Mayfair 74 77, Heath Slocum 74 77

152 Henrik Stenson (Swe) 77 75, Justin Rose (Gbr) 74 78, Tag Ridings 74 78

153 Paul Goydos 72 81, Steven Bowditch (Aus) 76 77, Michael Connell 77 76, John Rollins 72 81, Chris DiMarco 75 78

155 Craig Perks (Nzl) 77 78, David McKenzie (Aus) 81 74, JL Lewis 76 79

156 Chris Gray 78 78, Eric Axley 75 81

159 Jeff Amershadian 80 79.

Withdrew: Paul Azinger

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