Mickelson and Gay Grab Outright Lead

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After taking the last three weeks off following The Masters , Phil Mickelson is picking up right where he left off ' on top of his game.
 
This time, however, he is looking for victory.
 
The left-hander fired a second consecutive round of 66 at the English Turn Golf & Country Club, and, through 36 holes, is tied with Brian Gay for the lead of the Compaq Classic at 12-under-par 132.
 
Its starting to feel a little bit more comfortable now, stated Mickelson. Im hoping that over the course of the next two days, I steadily progress and improve the ball striking and so forth.
 
Paired with Tiger Woods in the final day of The Masters several weeks ago, Mickelson was unable to make a run over the last few holes at Augusta National and ultimately lost the tournament to his younger playing competitor by three strokes.
 
Following his finish, he decided to take some time off from the game, and did not touch a club for two weeks.
 
After Fridays round in New Orleans, it seems the layoff may have been a good remedy to shake the frustration of yet another close finish in a major championship without a victory.
 
I think the approach has to be work into the week, Mickelson said. Because when you come off a stretch, youre not going to be firing on all cylinders the first day. You need to be patient and let it slowly come, which Ive tried to do.
 
Likewise with Mickelson, Gay has also carded back-to-back rounds of 66. And now the 29-year-old is suddenly finding himself in unchartered territory at this event.
 
I missed the cut last year, and the year before I dont remember, he commented. I made the cut, but I want to say around 40th or something.
 
For the record, Gay finished in a tie for 45th in 99. And also for the record, he is searching for his first career win on the PGA Tour.
 
Paul Stankowski figured to be in relatively good shape for the third win of his career on the tour following an opening first round score of 61.
 
At 11-under, he was three better than anyone in the field, but lost it all on Friday, when he went 7-over in a stretch of five holes early in his round, and finished with a score of 77 and a position of T15 at minus-six.
 
After going bogey, bogey and triple-bogey on the 15th hole, I was looking for a tourniquet, Stankowski said. I couldnt stop the bleeding.
 
Harrison Frazar did not shed much blood during Fridays round. He carded the round of the day, a 65, and at 11-under, is in second place, just one stroke off the lead.
 
Unlike Gay, Frazar has tasted success here in years past, and hopes to continue with more of the same this time around.
 
Two years ago, I finished second and last year I finished third, he stated. So this will be either first or fourth (place) coming up. I dont know which.
 
Unexpected hero from this years Players Championship, Jerry Kelly is putting on another solid week thus far. Following a solid 67 on Friday, he is in a tie for fourth at 9-under with three others.
 
South African Ernie Els is in the mix too. He is tied with Brian Watts and Jim Carter at 8-under 136, three shots off the pace.
 
Full-field scores from the Compaq Classic of New Orleans