Phil Mickelson watches his putt on the 10th hole during the second round of the Desert Classic golf tournament at PGA West, La Quinta, California. Picture: Chris Carlson/AP
Phil Mickelson watches his putt on the 10th hole during the second round of the Desert Classic golf tournament at PGA West, La Quinta, California. Picture: Chris Carlson/AP

Mickelson follows 60 with a 68 to retain Desert Classic lead

AMERICAN veteran Phil Mickelson has birdied four of his last five holes to remain in front after two rounds of the Desert Classic in southern California.

Mickelson, who came up a shot shy of a 59 in his first round played at La Quinta Country Club, carded a four-under 68 at the Nicklaus Tournament Course on Friday (local time) to move to 16-under 128, two strokes ahead of Australian Curtis Luck (66).

The tournament is played out over three courses during its four days.

Perth-based Luck, who at 22 is 26 years Mickelson's junior, was let down by a pair of bogeys on par threes coming home, including a painful one at his second-last hole.

He rallied to close with a birdie, his eighth of the day, to stand at 14-under 130.

"Just like yesterday, very solid, lot of greens, a lot of fairways," said Luck, the 2016 US Amateur champion.

"Just missed a couple of short ones today, unfortunately. But putting's been great."

Steve Marino (65), who aced the par-three seventh at La Quinta, and Canadian Adam Hadwin (66) were tied for third a shot further back.

Mickelson, who played the back nine first, finished strongly after an even-par start for his first 13 holes. A double-bogey at the 18th, his ninth, was the low moment.

He birdied the fifth, sixth, seventh and ninth holes for a pleasing finish.

"I kind of struggled that front nine, then I doubled that 18th hole but I ended up birdieing four of the last five and turned it around," he told PGA Tour Radio.

"I struck the ball every bit as well (as Thursday) but I just didn't putt anywhere close as well as I did yesterday. I putted really good."

He wound up with six birdies as opposed to 10 birdies and an eagle on Thursday.

- Reuters

News Corp Australia

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