June 26 (UPI) — Playing in his first tournament since turning 50 less than two weeks ago, Phil Mickelson shot a 7-under 63 Friday to take a one-stroke lead in the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Conn.
The five-time major champion’s score in the second round of the Travelers was his best in a PGA Tour tournament since recording that same score in the fourth round of the Dell Technologies Championship in 2018.
Mickelson had eight birdies and one bogey Friday and was at 13-under 127 after two rounds.
“It’s special to win anytime, regardless of age,” Mickelson said. “But it would be a great accomplishment. It was a fun day. I had a great session with [swing coach] Andrew Getson earlier this week, and we keyed in on something that just kind of calmed me down and felt like I could strike it a little bit better. It’s only two rounds, but it’s been very positive.”
Mackenzie Hughes, who was the leader after the first round of play, followed his opening 60 with a 68 to fall into a second-place tie with 23-year-old Will Gordon, who held the lead for most of the day after shooting an early 62.
Rory McIlroy — the top-ranked player in the world — followed his first-round 63 with a 68. He was tied for fourth with Xander Schauffele, Brendan Steele, Brendon Todd and Marc Leishman at 9-under 131.
Before play began Friday, two players withdrew from the Travelers because of the coronavirus. Denny McCarthy — who shot a 67 in the first round — tested positive for the virus and was forced to pull out of the event.
Bud Cauley, who tested negative, opted to remove himself from the field after playing alongside McCarthy on Thursday. There have been seven withdrawals related to COVID-19.