Dynamic Duo Mickelson Furyk Lead at Pebble

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2007 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-AmPEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Phil Mickelson is so enthused about how well he is hitting the ball that he was looking forward to tough, windy conditions along the ocean Friday at Pebble Beach.
 
He didn't get what he wanted, and had few complaints.
 
Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson made four birdies over his final six holes to tie for first place.
Mickelson only had to cope with the cold and rain -- but not much wind -- and that helped him sail to a 5-under 67 and a share of the lead with Jim Furyk at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
 
'It was a good day. We got a pretty good draw,' Mickelson said. 'It was a little windy the last three or four holes, but I'm not going to complain. We had a great day to take advantage of scoring.'
 
He had chances to score even lower, but three straight birdies on the back nine at tame Pebble Beach, and a simple up-and-down for birdie on the par-5 18th enabled him to catch Furyk and reach 12-under 132.
 
Furyk also was pleased to see the flags drooping instead of flapping when he arrived at Poppy Hills, especially after seeing a forecast of 15 mph wind and heavy rain. The rain was brief and light, and he birdied all but one of the par 5s on his way to a 65.
 
'I think we got out of it pretty good today,' Furyk said. 'Hoping for the same tomorrow.'
 
That gave the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am a good 1-2 punch at the top from two of the highest-ranked players in the field.
 
Furyk (No. 2) and Mickelson (No. 6) had a three-shot lead over rookie John Mallinger and Kevin Sutherland, who turned in the best round of the dreary afternoon by firing off 10 birdies for a 63 at Spyglass Hill.
 
Sutherland thought briefly about the course record of 62 at Spyglass, just long enough to snap-hook his 3-wood into the trees and out of play on the par-5 seventh. He reloaded with a two-stroke penalty, reached the green in two, escaped with a bogey and didn't let one bad hole take away from his round.
 
'Spyglass is one of my favorite courses in the world,' said Sutherland, who has played it countless times dating to his amateur days in Northern California. 'I'd rather play there than Pebble Beach. But a 63 was not the score I was thinking about when I teed off.'
 
Sutherland plays his best golf on the West Coast -- his only victory was the 2001 Accenture Match Play Championship at La Costa -- and was in the final group two weeks ago at Torrey Pines until he finished in a tie for 14th. The attention that week was on Tiger Woods, who isn't at Pebble again.
 
The names atop the leaderboard were still enough to get his attention, especially since Mickelson is a two-time winner at Pebble Beach.
 
'I'm very much aware I need to make a lot more birdies,' Sutherland said with a smile.
 
Davis Love III made a quiet climb into contention with a 67 at Pebble Beach, but perhaps the biggest surprise came from the group behind Mickelson -- 57-year-old Tom Watson, playing this tournament for the last time.
 
Watson asked to play with his son, Michael, and the old man showed he still has a few tricks. He birdied three of his first four holes, and showed that he wasn't out for a few laughs after slapping his thigh in disgust when he missed birdie putts inside 8 feet on the sixth and seventh holes.
 
He also made birdie on the par-3 17th, but not with a chip from behind the green, as he did in 1982 when he won the U.S. Open. The flag was on the other side of the green, and Watson only had to make a 15-foot birdie putt.
 
It led to a 68, leaving him six shots behind at 6-under 138.
 
'He's playing great,' Mickelson said. 'I saw him birdie 17, which was nice.'
 
This tournament still won't come into clear view until after Saturday, when everyone completes the three-course rotation. Mickelson heads to Spyglass Hill, where he opened with a 62 two years ago on his way to a wire-to-wire victory. Furyk takes on Pebble Beach, and he can only hope the wind stays away for one more day. Pebble is a beast when the wind blows, a pushover when it doesn't.
 
Sutherland gets Poppy Hills, but he pays so little attention to these matters that his only concern is getting on the right shuttle.
 
'Is Poppy notoriously the easiest of the three?' he asked.
 
That's usually the case, although without the wind, Pebble was the place to be on Friday. It was the only course in the rotation that played under par (71.66), and Mickelson did his best to take advantage.
 
He birdied his first two holes, picking one up on the par-5 second with one of those shots created years ago in his backyard. He had to play a flop shop over the bunker, with the green running away from him and only 10 feet between the fringe and the cup. Mickelson hit it some 5 feet to the left of the flag, and it spun sideways to about 20 inches.
 
But he missed good opportunities at the fourth, fifth and sixth holes and dropped a shot on the ninth when he missed the green. Then came his three straight birdies on the back, finishing with a slick downhill putt on the 15th that went in from the side.
 
'I probably let a few shots go in the first nine or 10 holes, and I picked up some shots on the last eight or nine holes that I probably shouldn't have,' Mickelson said. 'So it was a good day.'
 
Divots:
Not only is Tom Watson in a tie for eighth, he is tied for second in the pro-am competition with his son. Watson is heavily involved with Michael, coaching him after a duffed chip at No. 6 and picking clubs and yardages for him. 'Play it like it's 95 yards,' he intently told Michael on the seventh tee, and the son obliged by hitting it to 4 feet. 'Atta boy!' Watson shouted, showing that gap-tooth grin. On the next tee, Watson walked up to his son and told him, 'It's 230 yards to the cliffs -- hit your hybrid 2, take it just off the right of that tan house,' he said.
 
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