By Fred Albers, PGA TOUR.COM Correspondent
FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — Phil Mickelson looked ready to charge. He birdied the first hole and was 1 under standing on the fifth tee. That’s when the round started to unravel. Mickelson drove into the fairway bunker, chipped out, hit a big hook right of the green and did not get it up and down. That’s six shots and a double bogey. It took all of 12 minutes to take place. There’s an expression on the Long Island course that applies. Mickelson has just been Bethpaged.
Slick Nick: Nick Watney took just 26 putts in the opening round and led the tournament in strokes gained-putting. Friday was different. Watney took 31 putts and is now 22nd in SGP for the week and even that stat is a little misleading. Watney putted three times in the last seven holes from the fringe and did not save par on any of the three. Those shots from the fringe count as chips or Watney would have totaled 34 putts.
Crusty: The fairways are getting firm and the greens are already there. Sergio Garcia called them “crusty.” The Spainiard avoided any putts on the second hole by chipping in from 40 feet for birdie. The golf course is only going to get faster on the weekend and will be a very difficult test come Sunday afternoon.
Undulations: The greens on the Black Course at Bethpage State Park are remarkably free of undulations and that may benefit some of the players in the field. Bob Estes is 98th in strokes gained-putting this year but is 18th this week. Vijay Singh is 19th in SGP over the first two rounds but a pedestrian 184th on the season. The same holds true for John Senden, who is a brilliant ball-striker but struggles at times with his putting. The lack of undulations in the greens may benefit solid ball strikers who have been inconsistent putters this year.
Bed rest: Tiger Woods planned to sleep on the floor Friday night and says he routinely does that in Europe. Woods has a muscle strain in his lower back and appeared to wince in pain several times during his second round. Woods said he would get treatment before leaving the course and has dealt with a cranky back since his college days at Stanford. Tiger says you will smell him before you see him this weekend — he’ll be covered with the aroma of Ben Gay.
Jinx: PGA TOUR media officials are so diligent in providing statistics of unusual streaks and they dug up this gem for Friday’s note package: Luke Donald set a single-season Playoffs record, playing all 270 holes without a three-putt. He began this week where he left off last year, playing all 18 holes on Thursday without a three-putt. That note lasted exactly two holes on Friday. Donald three-putted the second green to end that streak while shooting three over 74.
Caddie: Wayne Richardson has spent the last several years working for CBS as a spotter, getting yardages and relaying club information to the announcers. He?s gotten to be friends with several PGA TOUR players and when Sergio Garcia needed a caddie he asked Wayne. That’s quite the career move. Richardson now has the bag for the player who is tied for the lead and will be in the final group on Saturday. I don’t know what CBS pays its spotters, but I’m guessing it’s considerably less than whatever Richardson could stand to make if Garcia goes on to win. Well played, Wayne.
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here.