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Mickelson follows 60 with a 68 to retain Desert Classic lead

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

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

Topics:  curtis luck desert classic pga tour phil mickelson

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