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Phil Mickelson has 10-stroke lead over Tiger Woods at Doral

Mickelson shoots six-under-par 66 to take sole possession of the second-round lead in the CA Championship.

March 14, 2009|Randall Mell

DORAL, FLA. — Phil Mickelson couldn't hide his lone disappointment after blitzing the Blue Monster with another torrid round of shot-making Friday at the CA Championship.

Glowing with the confidence of a man sensing he's near the height of his powers, Mickelson revealed he wasn't content with the six-under-par 66 he shot to take sole possession of the second-round lead.

He wants Tiger Woods.

Head to head.

So he can avenge that loss to Woods in their thrilling duel across the Blue Monster four years ago.

Mickelson's disappointment Friday was in seeing Woods fall 10 shots behind him.

Rusty after eight months away while recuperating from reconstructive knee surgery, Woods is off his best form in his first stroke-play tournament since winning the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines last summer.

"I hope he comes out [today] and plays a great round and makes a move," Mickelson said. "I would love to get back from '05. I came close and got beat, and I would love the opportunity to play head-to-head." At 13-under 131, Mickelson is two shots ahead of Nick Watney (67), winner of the Buick Invitational five weeks ago, and three ahead of Kenny Perry (64) and Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy (66).

Unhappy with his distance control with his iron play, Woods shot 70, leaving him in a tie for 35th.

"I've been driving it well," Woods said. "Shots off the tees are pretty easy because you can hit whatever distance you want. Shots into greens are a totally different story, especially with the wind blowing like this. I just need to get a little more of a feel."

Mickelson, who won the Northern Trust Open three weeks ago, appears confident in every part of his game, especially the work he's doing with swing coach Butch Harmon on his driver.

"Everything we've been doing is geared toward the Masters," Harmon said. "Our whole deal has been to get him to drive the ball better so he could be more aggressive in the heat of battle. He has never driven the ball like he is now. He has so much control."

Mickelson, who will be looking to win his third Masters, said part of his improvement is in his new Callaway FT-9 driver. He's so confident, he asked his caddie, Jim "Bones" Mackay, if the PGA Tour widened the Blue Monster's fairways this year.

"Bones is saying no," Mickelson said. "It's a good feeling to look down the fairway and feel as though there's a big fairway to hit." Mickelson's hoping improved driving will help him in future duels with Woods.

"I think we all as players cannot wait for Tiger to get back on top of his game and hopefully be able to keep pace with him, not that we've been able to in the past," Mickelson said. "But we are hoping to have those opportunities to go head to head."

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rmell@sunsentinel.com

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