Mickelson trails Putnam after 36 in Houston

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HUMBLE, Texas – Scoring conditions continued Friday at the Shell Houston Open, where a former champion rose to the top of the standings. Here’s how things look heading into the third round at the Golf Club of Houston, where a relative unknown leads a former champ and a surprise contender:

Leaderboard: Andrew Putnam (-12), Phil Mickelson (-11), Austin Cook (-11), Graham DeLaet (-10), Luke Guthrie (-10), Jordan Spieth (-9), J.B. Holmes (-9), Hunter Mahan (-9)

What it means: Mickelson appeared to have the pole position after a 5-under 67, but Putnam went on a late birdie barrage to grab the lead. Now it’s the rookie, with just one top-25 finish, that the field is chasing.

Round of the day: Putnam has missed five of seven cuts this year, but he caught fire down the stretch Friday, with birdies on six of his final seven holes. It added up to a 7-under 65, including a 6-under 30 on the front nine, his inward half.

Best of the rest: Spieth gave the Texas crowds reason to cheer at No. 18, holing a 41-foot birdie putt to cap off a 6-under 66. One week after a runner-up finish in San Antonio, the 21-year-old is again contending for what would be his second win in the last three starts.

Biggest disappointment: Scott Piercy started the day with a two-shot lead, but quickly dropped in the standings after playing his first six holes in 4 over. After a 2-over 74, Piercy is 7 under and five shots behind Putnam.

Main storyline heading into Saturday: Mickelson is still in search of his first top-10 finish of the season, but he appears ready to end that drought just in time for the Masters. To win, though, he’ll need to chase down Putnam and hold off a group that includes Spieth and Cook, a Monday qualifier.

Shot of the day: Lee Westwood started by holing a fairway bunker shot on No. 10 for eagle. The highlight didn’t save the Englishman, though, as he missed the cut after consecutive rounds of 71.

Quote of the day: “That’s a tough one to miss.” – Mickelson, on Tiger Woods playing the Masters.