Putnam makes late charge to take lead at Houston Open

HOUSTON (AP) — Andrew Putnam made a late charge to pass three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson and take a one-shot lead after two rounds of the Houston Open.

The 26-year-old Putman, who made his PGA Tour debut here a year ago, birdied six of his final nine holes on the Golf Course of Houston’s front side for a 7-under 65 Friday. That matched the lowest score of the day and put him at 12-under 132.

“Solo lead ... that’s pretty cool,” said Putnam, who pointed out that he’d shared the lead in Las Vegas tournament last fall.

However, he hardly saw it coming.

“I haven’t been playing good or scoring well,” Putnam admitted. “Both have been bad. But (I’m) doing both well this week.”

Mickelson, who won the event in 2011, shot 67 for a share of second place at 133. Another late finisher, qualifier Austin Cook, matched Putnam with a 65 to tie Mickelson.

“It was unbelieavable,” said Cook, who played the final nine holes at 5 under and birdied the last one. “It was great. I’m really, really comfortable with my swing and my game right now and it’s kind of showing.”

Graham DeLaet (67) and Luke Guthrie (68) were tied for fourth at 134.

Six players are in the next group another shot back, including 21-year-old Jordan Spieth — who came in at a career-best No. 4 in the World Golf Rankings. Spieth, who had a win and a second place in his two previous starts, shot a 66.

Scott Piercy, who had a two-shot lead after a tournament course record-tying 63 in the first round, had a 74.

Mickelson made a 25-foot birdie putt on the par-5 15th hole to get to 12 under, but he hit a rare errant drive on the par-4 17th and took a bogey.

“I just blocked it a little bit, not a very good swing,” he said. “I certainly let that one get away. But I’ve driven it very well this week . . . hit a lot of fairways. My short game has been sharp, too. I’ve hit some good pitches. The putter feels a lot better, but it’s felt better for a while. I’m excited about this weekend. It’s going to be a shootout.”

Weather conditions were perfect for scoring low and the cut would be 4-under.

“It’s a fun tournament and it’s fun to have put myself in a (good) position to have a chance,” Mickelson said. “That’s an important thing for me heading into next week, to get into contention, to feel the pressure. Because the pressure that you feel trying to win the Masters is greater than just about anything we have.”

Lydia Ko’s under-par streak ends at 29 with 1-over 73

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. (AP) — Lydia Ko missed a chance to break the LPGA Tour record for consecutive rounds under par, closing with a bogey for a 1-over 73 on Friday in the second round of the ANA Inspiration.

Needing a birdie on the par-5 18th to extend her streak to 30, the 17-year-old New Zealander hit her second shot into the water after catching a flyer out of the right rough on her layup attempt. After a penalty drop, her fourth shot rolled 15 feet past and she missed the putt.

On Thursday, Ko shot a 71 to tie the record set by Annika Sorenstam in 2004. Ko’s worldwide streak, counting her victory in the Ladies European Tour’s New Zealand Women’s Open, ended at 32.

Ko was seven strokes behind leader Sei Young Kim.

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