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Golf: Mickelson leads; Tiger sputters

Associated Press
DORAL, Fla. ó Phil Mickelson can’t recall ever hitting the ball this long or having a short game this superb, and it showed Thursday when he chipped in three times on his way to a 7-under 65 for a share of the lead in the CA Championship.
Tiger Woods had few complaints about his game, but he sure didn’t get the same results.
In his first stroke-play event since winning the U.S. Open last summer, Woods managed only three birdies on a Blue Monster course where he has never finished out of the top 10. He wound up with a 71 to tie for 40th in an 80-man field.
“It was not like I was playing poorly and shot 71,” Woods said. “I played well and just didn’t make any putts.”
The problem for him was just about everyone else did.
Jeev Milkha Singh ran off five birdies in a six-hole stretch around the turn and was the first player to post a 65 on a balmy, breezy afternoon. Retief Goosen, switching back to a conventional putter, ran off eight birdies in his round of 65. And the real surprise was Prayad Marksaeng of Thailand, who birdied eight of his first 12 holes to join the leaders.
The group one shot behind included British Open and PGA champion Padraig Harrington, who didn’t feel as though he did much of anything right and had his best score of the year.
“I think I hit two fairways with my driver today. So it’s not like I played good golf or anything like that,” Harrington said. “It was all about the score.”
For Mickelson, it was mostly about his finish.
He hit into the water on No. 3 and took double bogey, found the water again on the par-3 fourth hole and chipped in for par. Mickelson was even through eight holes and was hopeful of a good back nine that would allow him a chance Friday to get into contention.
Three hours later, he already was there.
After trying to drive the 355-yard 16th hole, he pitched up to 3 feet for birdie. Then he chipped in from short of the green on the 17th, and made it three straight birdies by chipping in from about 25 feet on the 18th.
“It was just nice to see the ball go in the hole,” Mickelson said.
That wasn’t the case for Woods.

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