By Frank Pingue
(Reuters) – Phil Mickelson used a solid finish to seize a one-shot lead following the second round of the Travelers Championship in Cromwell, Connecticut, on Friday where a third PGA Tour player tested positive for COVID-19.
Mickelson closed with a birdie at the last hole of the TPC River Highlands course for a seven-under-par 63 that brought him to 13 under on the week and one shot clear of first-round leader Mackenzie Hughes (68) and sponsor invite Will Gordon (62).
World No. 1 Rory McIlroy (68) and Xander Schauffele (68) were among a pack of five golfers a further three shots back.
Mickelson, in his first tournament since turning 50 last week, will have a short turnaround as third round action will feature threesomes off split tees starting at 7 a.m. EDT (1100 GMT) due to expectations for inclement weather later in the day.
“It’s probably a little bit difficult as you get older, but when you’re playing well, you have that extra momentum, and it should be okay,” said Mickelson.
Gordon, in only his eighth PGA Tour start and playing on a sponsor exemption, made the most of his opportunity as he mixed six birdies and one bogey over his opening eight holes before adding another three birdies after the turn.
“I knew that (the course) was going to be gettable this morning,” said Gordon. “Just tried to come into today with a really positive mindset and aggressive mindset and I was able to do that.”
Collin Morikawa came into this week riding a streak of 22 consecutive cuts made to begin his professional career but finally ran out of gas, falling three short of matching the record held by Tiger Woods.
“Just couldn’t get the ball in the hole,” said Morikawa. “That’s the name of the game, right? So it was bound to happen at some point.”
Denny McCarthy withdrew ahead of his second round after he became the third PGA Tour player to test positive for COVID-19.
“Last night, I woke up in the middle of the night with additional aches and soreness and sensed something was off,” said McCarthy. “I felt like the only thing to do was get tested at that point before I went to the course.”
Bud Cauley, who played the first round with McCarthy, tested negative twice but withdrew as a precautionary measure, bringing the number of coronavirus-related withdrawals this week to seven.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Ed Osmond and Tom Brown)