Martin Laird moves into a two-shot lead at Phoenix Open
Rain wasn’t the only thing that put a damper on the Phoenix Open on Friday.
The rowdiest event on the PGA Tour goes into Super Bowl weekend without Tiger Woods, who had the worst score of his career and missed the cut by 12 shots. Also gone is Phil Mickelson, who had his worst round on the TPC Scottsdale in six years.
Martin Laird carried on nicely without them.
Once the rain stopped, Laird played his best golf and he doesn’t think that was a coincidence. He ran off four birdies in a five-hole stretch until making his first bogey of the tournament on his final hole for a second consecutive five-under-par 66.
That gave him a two-shot lead over Daniel Berger (69), with Justin Thomas (68) another shot behind. Both 21-year-old rookies received sponsor’s exemptions. A trio of Masters champions -- Bubba Watson (71), Zach Johnson (70) and Angel Cabrera (69) -- were in the group four shots behind.
That’s not who the crowd came to see.
Woods was playing the Waste Management Phoenix Open for the first time in 14 years. “Welcome back!” the gallery shouted to him on Thursday. “Thanks for coming!” was the refrain on Friday as he walked off his final green with an 11-over 82.
It was his highest score in 322 official tournaments in his career.“We all have days like this,” Woods said after a day unlike any other he has had in his career.
Mickelson had a 76, his highest score in this event since he opened with a 76 in 2009 and missed the cut. Neither are going to the Super Bowl. Mickelson flew home to San Diego, Woods to Florida, and both will meet up next week in Torrey Pines.
It was the first time since The Greenbrier Classic in 2012 that they missed the cut in the same event.
“Hopefully, we will be able to get it turned around for next week,” Mickelson said.
Laird would seem to thrive in such wet, chilly conditions based on his birth certificate alone. He was born in Scotland, though he played college golf at Colorado State and has been living in Arizona for the last 14 years. He didn’t even play a European Tour event until he had his PGA Tour card.
But living in Scottsdale, surely he has experience the occasional cold, steady rain like Friday.
“The weather is so good here, when the weather is like this we don’t play,” Laird said. “I really don’t remember a day where it’s just been that kind of drizzle. It was a very Scottish day today. We get rain, but it’s not sort of an all-day thing.”
Laird was at 10-under 132. He made a 20-foot birdie putt on the par-five 13th, hit wedge to a foot for birdie on the par-five 15th, and then made seven-foot birdie putts on the next two holes to give himself a little separation.
Ryan Palmer (72) and Ryan Moore (67) were in the group at 136, while Geoff Ogilvy (69) was among those five shots behind.
Lydia Ko is one round from potentially making golf history.
The 17-year-old New Zealander birdied five consecutive holes and shot a seven-under 65 in the third round of the Coates Golf Championship on Friday to take the outright lead in the LPGA Tour’s season opener.
If she hangs on Saturday, she would become the youngest golfer — male or female — to be ranked No. 1 in the World Golf Rankings.
“I really haven’t thought about it,” Ko said. “Like I’ve always said, the rankings come after the results in each tournament. It would be great and it would be a huge honor to be in that position, but we’ve still got another long, 18 holes to go, and you never know what’s going to happen in those holes.”
Second-round leader Ha Na Jang was a stroke back at 13-under 203 after a one-under 71 Friday. Fellow South Korean Na Yeon Choi shot a six-under 66 and was two back at 12 under.
American Stacy Lewis (70) was 10 under, one stroke ahead of Amy Yang (65), Jessica Korda (69) and Austin Ernst (70).
Michelle Wie and Cheyenne Woods both shot 73 in the third round and fell further back in the 77-player field at Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club.
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