CROMWELL, Conn. — Phil Mickelson likely had his people gassing up the private jet for an early departure Friday after he carded bogeys on two of his first four holes in the second round of the Travelers Championship. Those left him 1-over for the tournament, while the cut line at the time was hovering around 1-under.
Mickelson, though, rallied on his back nine with birdies on three of his final four holes to make the cut on the number (2-under) and play the weekend, trailing leader Jason Day by seven strokes.
Mickelson, who began his round on No. 10, erased those bogeys on Nos. 12 and 13 with birdies on 14 and 15 to made the turn even-par for the day and 1-under for the tournament.
Then came what he called “pathetic’’ bogeys on Nos. 1 and 2 and he was back to 1-over, at least two shots out of the cut line.
“They’re two birdie holes — easy short wedges in — and I hit two bad drives and ended up making two bogeys,’’ he said. “After that, I knew I was in trouble cut-wise, because there were some holes back into the wind that were going to play long, like 4 and 5, and I had my work cut out for me.’’
Mickelson saved his round and tournament with those three late birdies on Nos. 6, 8 and 9 to get to 2-under.
Afterward, with a wry smile he called that crucial birdie run “a good one.’’
“I’m happy that I have a chance to play the weekend,’’ Mickelson said. “I’m not scoring the way I need to on some critical holes, namely No. 13 on the back, and 15. I needed to play those holes 4-under par [and] played them 2-over [the past two days]. Those six shots, that’s the difference.’’
Bubba Watson had the head of his driver shear off when he hit his tee shot on the second hole, which was his 11th of the second round. Watson, who has a backup driver, had it brought out to him two holes later, and he used that the rest of the round.
Afterward, he joked, “Luckily, it didn’t hit anybody, but if I was going to hit anybody I was hoping it would be Brooks [Koepka]. But I missed him. Not that good of an aimer.’’
Koepka was standing a few feet away listening to Watson and mused, “He’s got about as much control of his driver as he does with his putter.’’
Kevin Kisner has had an odd week on the golf course. In Thursday’s opening round, he carded 18 consecutive pars, shooting 70. In Friday’s second round, he had six birdies and an eagle to go along with one bogey and shot 63 to get to 7-under for the tournament, one shot out of the lead.
“I went ahead and ended that [par] streak on the first hole, so I got that cat done with early,’’ Kisner said of his birdie on No. 1.
The highlight of Kisner’s day was an eagle on No. 15, the 279-yard risk-reward par-4, om which he drove the green and made a 31-foot putt.
“That’s not one you’re really planning to make,’’ he said.
Kisner said he felt like he “probably hit the ball about the same’’ on Friday as he did on Thursday, but “probably closer on the approach.’’
“I really didn’t make any putts [Thursday],’’ he said.
Kisner had 33 putts in the first round and 26 on Friday.
Kisner has been in the midst of a dreadful run of play with seven missed cuts in the last 10 tournaments he’s played with a tie for 18th, 55th and 40th in the events he’s gotten into the weekend.
He said he’s been waiting for a round like Friday’s “for a long time.’’
Russell Henley had a share of the lead entering the final round of the U.S. Open last week at Torrey Pines, but shot a disappointing 76 on Sunday to drop back to a share of 13th place.
He had no idea how much the stress of U.S. Open week took out of him until the middle of this week.
“It kind of hit me on Wednesday,’’ Henley said. “I thought I was good Tuesday, and then Wednesday I remember feeling like, ‘OK, that did take a lot out of me.’’ I didn’t really realize it.’’
Henley again has himself in position to win, playing the first two rounds in 7-under, one shot out of the lead after following his first-round 67 with a 66 on Friday.
Seamus Power, who earned a spot in the field this week through a Monday qualifier, not only made the cut, but enters the weekend at 7-under, just one shot out of the lead at the halfway point.
“Monday qualifiers are tough — a lot of good players and only four spots,’’ he said. “It’s one of those days [when] you need your game to be there. I’ve been playing really recently. That was the first time Mondaying for a PGA Tour event.
“All of a sudden, it just doesn’t seem as un-doable in a way like it had before. So that gave me bit of momentum. The game is in good shape.’’