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Mickelson surges, Woods toils

WORLD No. 3 Phil Mickelson raced two shots clear after firing a six-under-par 66 in the second round of the CA Championship at Doral, Florida, on Friday.

He leads by two strokes from US compatriot Nick Watney, who carded a bogey-free 67. Another American Kenny Perry and British teenager Rory McIlroy were tied for third, three off the pace.

Mickelson started at the 10th but followed an opening birdie by dropping a shot two holes later on the Blue Monster course.

The left-hander drove out of bounds at the 12th before rallying with six birdies, including an excellent chip-in at the par-four seventh, to finish on 13-under 131.

Mickelson's short game has again been outstanding. He also chipped in three times in the first round and says he feels in top form ahead of next month's US Masters.

"I knew heading into this week I was playing well and I'm excited for this weekend but more than that I can feel my game really coming round for the Masters," said Mickelson, winner of the Northern Trust Open in February.

"To be hitting it as high and as far as I am hitting it, with my short game as good as it has ever been, I can't wait for Augusta," he told reporters.

Tiger Woods, playing his first strokeplay event after his eight-month layoff for knee surgery, returned a 70 for 141.

The world No. 1 started well with birdies at the first and fourth. He dropped back with bogeys at the sixth and 10th before recovering with two birdies at the 12th and 17th.

Woods also featured at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona two weeks ago. "Today felt a lot better than yesterday and yesterday it felt a lot better than it did in Tucson," he said.

The exciting McIlroy had a topsy-turvy end to his round of 66 after starting at the 10th.

Five-under after 13 holes, the Northern Ireland teenager followed bogeys at the fifth and seventh by eagling the eighth and birdieing the ninth.

Perry moved into contention with a bogey-free 64, a round matched by Spaniard Alvaro Quiros who was on 136.

The 48-year-old Perry said he was amazed by how well McIlroy, who won the Dubai Desert Classic last month, was coping with the pressure of a big tournament.

"At 19 I think physically I could have played but mentally I could not have handled it out here," said the American.

Thailand's Prayad Marksaeng, who shared the overnight lead, recorded a 70 for 135 after taking seven shots at the par-four 18th.

India's Jeev Milkha Singh, another of the overnight leaders, was on 136 after bogeying the 17th and double-bogeying the last for a 71.


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