Phil Mickelson took an early lead in his tussle with Zach Johnson as the Americans got the second round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship under way at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club near Tucson today.
Mickelson needed 19 holes to get past Argentina’s Angel Cabrera in yesterday’s opening round having let slip a four-hole lead over the back nine.
Against Johnson, a first-round winner over Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell, he moved in front on the opening hole before the 2007 Masters champion levelled with a birdie at the par-three third.
Mickelson, winner of last week’s Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles, then regained the lead with a birdie three at the fourth and was still one up after six holes.
Lee Westwood, the first of six Englishmen in the last 32 out on the course, was one down after five holes to American Stewart Cink, last year’s runner-up, who took the lead with a birdie at the par-five second.
Ryder Cup rivals from last year, Oliver Wilson and Anthony Kim, were involved in an early see-saw match with American Kim drawing first blood with a birdie at the opening hole.
Both players birdied the second but England’s Wilson, who with Henrik Stenson came from four holes down to beat Mickelson and Kim in foursomes at Valhalla last September, got back to all square with a birdie at the par-three third, while Kim bogeyed.
World number one Tiger Woods continues his comeback from an eight-month injury lay-off this evening with his second-round match against Tim Clark of South Africa, teeing off at 7.02pm UK time as he bids to defend his title and win the tournament for a fourth time.
Woods admitted he expects the effects of his knee reconstruction to linger for some time after resuming his professional career with a 3&2 victory over Australia’s Brendan Jones in the first round.
The American was pleased to be back in action having completed his often painful rehabilitation from the surgery on his left knee, but believes he will experience soreness after a round for some time to come.
“I’m sure that’s going to be a little while,” he said. “It’s to be expected.
“But I’m very pleased at how it felt all day. I thought that it would be more stiff on the 15th tee when I had to hit my shot after that long wait. But I felt fine.”
Following Woods among the late starters will be Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, who faces US Ryder Cup star Hunter Mahan, with a possible third-round date with the world number one an incentive for victory.
Also out late will be England’s Ian Poulter, who faces Charl Schwartzel – the South African who upset world number two Sergio Garcia in the first round.