Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend

Mickelson stumbles after stint as leader

He remains in mix despite 4-over 75 in second round

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Phil Mickelson went from planning to hit a draw away from the water to wondering if he should hit a fade that would bleed away from the bunkers toward the 14th green at Quail Hollow Club.

This was all part of the same swing thought. It ended up in the water.

Mickelson was 11 shots worse than his best score in nearly a year Friday, limping to the finish for a 4-over 75 in the Wells Fargo Championsh­ip. What mattered more was at least being in the mix.

So was Rory McIlroy, a two-time winner at Wells Fargo who has a certain comfort level at Quail Hollow. He had a 66 and will competing on a Saturday for the first time in two months.

Among the early finishers Friday, former U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland (69), Matt Wallace (67) and Patrick Rodgers (68) shared the lead at 6-under 136.

McIlroy started the second round outside the projected cut line, but he finished just two shots behind the early leaders.

Everything felt and looked so easy for Mickelson when he opened with a 64. This was more of a challenge, particular­ly late in the round, and Mickelson felt his focus lapsing again.

Even the tee shot into the water on the 14th didn’t hurt him — after a penalty drop, he hit a wedge just over the bunker and it rolled out 2 feet behind the hole, allowing him to escape with par.

But after another good tee shot on the par-5 16th, he wasn’t quite sure what to do with his next one. He pulled it well right of the green, and his high flop shot landed too far and went over the edge. He chipped poorly to about 12 feet and turned what looked to be a sure birdie into a bad bogey.

Two holes later, he found the water on the par-5 17th for a double bogey.

Stricker in 4-way tie atop Regions Tradition

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Defending champion Steve Stricker birdied the final hole for a 3-under 69 to move into a fourway tie for the lead halfway through the Regions Tradition.

Stricker joined Jerry Kelly, Alex Cejka and firstround leader Darren Clarke atop the leader board in the first of the PGA Tour Champions’ five majors.

Cejka, who made the field as the first alternate when Jay Haas withdrew, followed his opening 68 with a 69 at Greystone Golf & Country Club. Kelly had a 70 and Clarke shot 71 to get to 7 under.

Stricker had four birdies and a bogey. In 2019, he pulled away for a sixstroke win and his first senior major title. The event was canceled last year.

Four players were one stroke off the lead, including World Golf Hall of Famer Ernie Els. He and Dicky Pride both carded their second straight 69. Stephen Ames had a 71.

Tavatanaki­t leads Thitikul in Thailand

PATTAYA, Thailand — Patty Tavatanaki­t finished with an eagle to take a three-stroke lead over Atthaya Thitikul at the halfway stage of the LPGA Thailand.

Tavatanaki­t moved 16 under at Siam Country Club after a 12-foot putt on the par-5 18th for back-to-back 64s.

Despite no spectators because of the pandemic, Tavatanaki­t and 18-year-old Thitikul are playing under high home expectatio­ns.

A Thai has never won this U.S. LPGA Tour event.

Ariya Jutanugarn was second in 2013, and her sister Moriya Jutanugarn runner-up in 2018.

Thitikul had a bogey on the 17th and signed off with a second-round 67.

 ?? THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? Phil Mickelson misses a putt on the 15th green during the second round of the Wells Fargo Championsh­ip in Charlotte, N.C. He dropped from first to a tie for 10th.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Phil Mickelson misses a putt on the 15th green during the second round of the Wells Fargo Championsh­ip in Charlotte, N.C. He dropped from first to a tie for 10th.

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