Goosen Lefty Primed for Showdown

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MIAMI -- Retief Goosen posted a 4-under 68 on Friday to take the second-round lead of the Ford Championship at Doral. The 2001 U.S. Open champion stands at 9-under-par 135 at Doral Resort and Spa.
 
Phil Mickelson carded a 3-under 69 and is tied for second place with Todd Hamilton (68) and Craig Parry (65) at 8-under-par 136.
 
There were heavy winds during the morning tee times that calmed down during the afternoon session. On Thursday, the wind was consistent throughout the day but the players at the top of the leaderboard all played later in Friday's second round.
 
Goosen began on the second nine at Doral and collected birdies at two of his first three holes. He parred the next six on the back side but caught fire on his second nine.
 
Goosen kicked off his second nine with a nine-foot birdie putt at No. 1 and made it two in a row with a birdie at the second. He drove into the rough at the third and made bogey but the South African rebounded from the miscue.
 
At the fifth, Goosen sank a five-footer for birdie and added another at No. 6 when he drained a 27-footer. Problems were ahead for the South African when he missed the short grass with his drive at the seventh. He tried to play a hook shot with a tall tree 20 feet in front of him but struck a branch and only advanced the ball 30-some yards. He played his third 25 feet from the cup and left his par-saving putt two feet short. Goosen kicked in the bogey putt to fall to 9 under.
 
Goosen did not give himself good looks for birdie at his final two holes but he took the 36-hole lead for the fifth time on the PGA Tour. He is 2-2 after his previous advantages but Goosen is playing some awesome golf of late on tour.
 
Dating back to his last eight rounds of last season, and including his play this year on the PGA Tour, Goosen extended his streak of rounds of par or better to 27 with his 68 on Friday.
 
'I know I played pretty well in January and had pretty good rounds going then,' said Goosen, who has three top-10s on tour so far in 2004. 'I don't keep track of those sorts of things. Get out there and play the game and just see what happens.'
 
Mickelson played the course from the first and birdied his first two holes. He dropped a shot at the par-5 10th when he hit his second into the water but the former No. 2 player in the world came back.
 
The left-hander birdied 12 then rolled home a five-foot birdie putt at 13 to get to eight-under on his round. Mickelson played a three-quarter 6-iron to five feet to set up birdie at 17 but the 'Blue Monster' at Doral caught up to him.
 
At 18, Mickelson hit a wonderful drive that ended up in the first cut on the left side. His second landed in the right fringe, close to the pin, which would be a difficult, downhill chip. Mickelson's third ran 10 feet past the hole and he missed the comeback putt to fall out of a share of first place with Goosen.
 
After a disastrous 2003, Mickelson has already won in 2004 and picked up the unofficial 'King of the West Coast Swing.'
 
'I had a whole different attitude after 2003. I wanted to forget about it, put it behind me and start fresh in '04,' said Mickelson. 'I wanted to focus on the things I was doing well in the three years (2000-2002) when I was No. 2 in the world.'
 
Parry was flawless on Friday with seven birdies and no bogeys.
 
Hamilton, a tour rookie, was tied for the lead after five birdies on Friday but the 'Blue Monster' claimed another victim. Hamilton bogeyed the 18th to fall into the tie for second.
 
Craig Perks, the 2002 Players champion, shot a 3-under 69 and was joined in fifth by Mark Calcavecchia (69) and Alex Cejka (68). The trio is knotted at 7-under-par 137.
 
Chris Smith, the overnight leader, struggled to a 4-over 76 and is part of a group in 25th at minus-3.
 
Defending champion Scott Hoch shot a 74 and shares 52nd at even-par 144.
 
The 36-hole cut fell at 1-over-par 145 and among the notable players who will miss the weekend are: British Open champion Ben Curtis (146), 2002 PGA Champion Rich Beem (147) and U.S. Ryder Cup captain Hal Sutton (148).
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - Ford Championship
  • Full Coverage - Ford Championship