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Mickelson rallies down stretch, cards 68

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Phil Mickelson watched his opening round unravel Thursday across his closing stretch at Sheshan International Golf Club.

One day later, the 43-year-old used the final holes of his round to rally back into contention heading into the weekend at the WGC-HSBC Champions.

After a disappointing 1-under 71 Thursday – a round that included three balls into the water as he played his final two holes in 5 over – Mickelson got off to another turbulent start in the second round, with two birdies and two bogeys across his opening six holes. Standing on the 12th tee, Lefty was even par for the day and several shots off the lead.

From there, though, Mickelson closed his round with five birdies across his final six holes, a stretch of red numbers sandwiched around a bogey on the par-4 14th hole. It all added up to a 4-under 68, one that moved Mickelson into a tie for 11th heading into the weekend, seven shots behind overnight leader Dustin Johnson.

Despite reaching just 12 of 18 greens in regulation Friday, Mickelson was able to card eight birdies during the second round and with 14 circles on his scorecard through 36 holes, the southpaw leads the field in birdies along with Jordan Spieth.

Mickelson also extracted a bit of revenge against the holes that doomed his opening effort. After taking 14 shots to complete holes 8-9 to close his round Thursday, he needed just eight strokes to play the same two holes Friday, making a par at No. 9 and notching a birdie on No. 8 after a quadruple-bogey 9 a day earlier.