CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Masters champion Phil Mickelson is nearly over his stomach ailment – perhaps just in time to win his second straight tournament.
Long before Tiger Woods’ Friday afternoon meltdown left him with only his sixth missed cut in his professional career, Mickelson put together a bogey-free 4-under 68 that left him two shots behind leader Billy Mayfair at the halfway point of the Quail Hollow Championship.
Not bad for somebody who was so ill vomiting two days earlier that he had had to withdraw from the pro-am in his first event since Augusta.
“One more day of rest after we get done here, and I should be 100 percent for the weekend,” Mickelson said.
After acknowledging he tired Thursday when he finished with consecutive bogeys, Lefty got off to a quick start early Friday on the difficult back nine.
He hit a 5-iron to 8 feet for an eagle at the par-5 15th, then birdied the water-protected 17th.
“It’s a bonus because I’m not trying to make 2 on 17. It’s one of those holes like 17 at TPC Sawgrass,” Mickelson said. “You just want a 3 and move on. Today the tee was up, not too much wind, the green was soft, and I ended up hitting a good shot that slightly pushed by the hole. I ended up having a 3-footer for birdie.”
Mickelson finished his round with 10 consecutive pars, but it leaves him in good shape in an event where he hasn’t won, but has four top-10 finishes.
“This is a wonderful, fun golf course to play,” Mickelson said. “The way the course is set up right now is perfect, so I hope that it doesn’t vary too much.”
MONDAY MAYFAIR: Billy Mayfair last won in 1998 and finished a career-worst 157th on the money list last year. He had to scramble just to make it in time for the Monday qualifier for Quail Hollow.
And after two rounds he’s alone in the lead.
Mayfair followed his 65 on Monday that put him in the field with consecutive 68s that left him at 8-under and one shot ahead of Angel Cabrera.
“A lot of guys will say when they had to Monday qualify a long time ago before this was an all-exempt tour, some of the best weeks they had was when they did Monday qualify,” Mayfair said. “They were hot coming in and they just kind of kept rolling the wave. That’s what I’m going to try to do.”
The 43-year-old Mayfair’s eventful stretch began when he missed his flight to Charlotte on Sunday night after finishing 43rd in New Orleans. His wife, Tami, booked them on a 6 a.m. flight Monday that required a 3 a.m. wakeup call.
After connecting through Atlanta, Mayfair arrived in Charlotte at about noon and had a 12:45 tee time.
Mayfair is convinced the momentum from his solid round under the circumstances carried over to the tournament.
“Any time you can go out and shoot 65, which I think is my lowest round this year, it gives you confidence,” he said. “You can hit the ball as good as you want and putt as good as you want, but if you’re not shooting the numbers, the confidence isn’t there.
“I’m starting to shoot the numbers.”
Mayfair had seven birdies and needed only 26 putts for the second straight day.
TIGER NUMBERS: Tiger Woods missing the cut – by eight shots – produced plenty of rarities.
It marked just the sixth missed cut in 241 starts as a professional, and his first since the 2009 British Open. His last missed cut in a non-major was in 2005 at Walt Disney World.
His 79 was his worst round as a professional in a non-major and his two-day total of 153 was his worst as a pro.
Woods also had consecutive double-bogeys on holes 14-15. His only worse stretch as a pro was a double-bogey and triple-bogey on consecutive holes at Bay Hill in 2007.
Woods’ 43 on the back nine matched the worst of his career.
“That’s surprising,” said Anthony Kim, who was tied for 15th, five shots back. “He’s the best player in the world, still. He’s had such a long time off. I’m sure he’s disappointed, but he’ll be back.”
SURPRISING MULROY: Even die-hard PGA Tour fans probably did a double-take seeing Garth Mulroy atop the leaderboard at midday Friday.
The rookie from South Africa hadn’t made the cut in seven previous starts and was playing this week on a sponsor’s exemption. Yet after an opening-round 69, there he was at 7 under after an eagle at the 10th.
Mulroy then had six straight pars before putting two balls into the water at the par-3 17th. A triple bogey left him with a 71, but he’s tied for ninth at 4-under.
Mulroy finished 14th on the Nationwide Tour money list in 2009, which included a victory at the South Georgia Classic. He’s also spent time on the E-Golf Tour, formerly the Tarheel Tour.
DIVOTS: Former champions Sean O’Hair (72-77) and Vijay Singh (77-72) missed the cut. … The second-round leader has won six of 17 stroke-play events this year on the PGA Tour. The last second-round leader to win at Quail Hollow was Woods in 2007. … J.P. Hayes matched the course record with an 8-under 64 that left him two shots off the lead. … Parker McLachlin, who had a 12 on the seventh hole on his way to an opening 88, withdrew Friday because of a wrist injury.