CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The theory had been tossed around for the past couple of days: Quail Hollow’s rough was set at only 2 inches to help the power players and big names, like Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods.
“I hope so,” Mickelson said, laughing. “That would be great.”
The trade off, though, is much firmer greens than in years past. And Mickelson’s four-putt on the tricky 17th green cost him chance for a great round. He settled for a 1-under 71, which left him at 6 under, two behind co-leaders Bubba Watson and Retief Goosen and a shot behind Woods.
“I left my first putt short on 17. I was fearing rolling it eight, 10 feet by and I left it five feet short,” Mickelson said.
Mickelson then rolled the next putt by the hole and it rolled nearly 12 feet past the hole.
“There wasn’t anything to stop it,” Mickelson said. “I probably should have made that 7-, 8-footer coming back, but I just didn’t hit a good one.”
Mickelson is a fan of the short rough, saying it leads to creativity with recovery shots. But he insisted the course is not completely set up for the big hitters and big names because it’s difficult to keep the ball from running through the firm fairways.
“I’m having to hit a lot of 3-woods and 4-woods off tees,” Mickelson said. “I’m playing my approach shots from the same spots that many of the shorter players would play from.”
BUBBA’S CONCENTRATION: Bubba Watson shot 30 on the front nine on Friday en route to a 7-under 65 and a share of the lead.
Imagine how well the long-hitter would do if he could concentrate.
“My mind just wanders,” Watson said. “I’m thinking about what shoes I’m going to buy, I need to wash my car. I’m thinking about stuff that doesn’t matter because we’re out there for so long.”
Watson said one time his caddie, Ted Scott, had to interrupt a conversation about what course they’re going to play later this month in Ohio.
“He’s like, ‘Shut up, let’s talk about this putt right now,”‘ Watson said.
Staying focused has been a lifelong struggle for Watson, who said he “didn’t listen in school,” either. But he’s resisted seeking if he perhaps has attention deficit disorder.
“I think it’s just a crutch,” Watson said. “My dad is from the military, Green Beret Special Forces. He said that’s a crutch. Doctors are crutches, so you’ve got to figure out how to do it on your own.”
Ranked 80th on the money list and still looking for his first PGA Tour victory, Watson said his caddie has helped him stay focused and not get down after a bad shot. His round on Friday included an eagle on the first hole.
And for the record, Watson needs to buy tennis shoes and has a white car with black rims that he hasn’t washed in four months. He wouldn’t reveal the golf course in Ohio.
“Because all my fans might come and chase me down,” Watson said, grinning.
CABRERA CUT: Angel Cabrera’s first tournament since the Masters ended early. He joined Padraig Harrington, Sergio Garcia and Vijay Singh on the list of prominent players to miss the cut.
Cabrera shot 70 on Thursday, but he struggled to a 76 on Friday that included a 41 on the front nine to close his round. Cabrera double-bogeyed the seventh hole when he hit two shots into the water.
Singh won at Quail Hollow in 2005 and had been the only player make the cut in the first six years of the tournament. But Singh wasn’t close this time in another poor week in a disappointing season.
After opening with a 4-over 76, Singh shot 74 on Friday to miss the cut by six shots. He has yet to post a top-10 finish in nine events this year that’s included four missed cuts.
Harrington was at 4 under with two holes to go on Thursday before finishing triple bogey-double bogey. He didn’t recover Friday, shooting 75.
Garcia followed Thursday’s 71 with a 6-over 78. It included a stretch of four straight bogeys that will prevent him from erasing the ugly memories of blowing a 6-shot final-round lead four years ago.
JOHNSON’S SOUR FINISH: Zach Johnson was flirting with the course record of 64 until the “Green Mile” and the swirling wind kept him from second-day lead.
Johnson, playing in an early group, approached the difficult closing three holes at 8-under for the day. But as the wind picked up he finished with three consecutive bogeys for a 67 that left him 7 under and one shot out of the lead.
“It’s upsetting, very disappointing, but at the same time I can’t be too upset,” said Johnson, who won the Sony Open in January. “I did a lot of good things.”
The 2007 Masters champion had birdied seven of the past eight holes as he walked to the 16th tee.
His 7-iron approach shot at 16 sailed in the wind, landed over the green he couldn’t get up and down.
The wind caught his tee shot on the 17th, leaving him short of the hole and again he couldn’t save par.
Johnson then three-putted 18, but still finished with only his second sub-70 round in 16 attempts at Quail Hollow.
“You’ve got to find what you think is the wind,” Johnson said. “And that’s what I did – at least it felt like it. You just commit to your shots and try to execute.”
BOB HOPE CLASSIC: With news that Chrysler has filed for bankruptcy protection, the PGA Tour said Friday that the Bob Hope Classic in the California desert will be played next year and beyond.
Chrysler has been the title sponsor of the Hope since 1986, but it asked to have its name removed during the TV broadcast and some signage to avoid attention on the ailing auto industry.
“The foundation that has been built over the last 50 years provides solid financial footing for the Desert Classic Charities group to continue the strong traditions of the Bob Hope Classic,” PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said in a statement.
Desert Classic Charities, Inc., runs the tournament.
The tour said the tournament has raised more than $50 million for charities in the Coachella Valley, with most of that money going to the Eisenhower Medical Center.
DIVOTS: Robert Karlsson shot 69 to move within three of the lead in a rare non-major American appearance for the Swede. He asked for a commissioner’s exemption. “I love this event,” said Karlsson, who missed the cut at the Masters. “I played here in 2007 and for me this is one of the top events.” … Brad Faxon (1 under) made just his second cut in his first full season back from knee surgery. … John Rollins hit his drive into the water on 18 before recovering to hole an 80-foot putt for par – and make the cut by a stroke.