February 1 2013
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Bill Haas and Phil Mickelson teed off within nine minutes of each other on opposite nines at TPC Scottsdale on Friday.
They'll be seeing a lot of each other on Saturday, though, after Haas played his way in the final group with a bogey-free 64 that left him 13 under and four strokes behind Mickelson. Keegan Bradley, who is tied with Brandt Snedeker at 12 under, joins the two on the first tee at 12:50 p.m. ET.
"They're good guys and very good players, so it's always fun to be up there near the top," said Haas, who happened to beat the two in a playoff at the Northern Trust Open last year.
Mickelson appeared to be pulling away, though, when he got to 19 under after he drove the 17th green and two-putted for birdie. A water-logged double bogey at the 18th hole, though, made the gap much more manageable.
"Obviously Phil is playing very well," Haas said. "Obviously we would need him to do that on 18, and we need him to do more stuff like that for us to catch him. I don't think it's that big of a speed bump for him. He'll make a lot of birdies.
"But we all know the way the course is playing, if there's no wind on the weekend, you've just got to keep making birdies."
Haas has made his share, too. He started on the back nine Friday, birdied the first two holes and went on to make the turn in 30. The front nine wasn't as generous but a 14-footer at the seventh hole propeled Haas into sole possession of second.
"I'm very pleased with my two days," Haas said. "... (The highlight was) just getting off to a nice start, birdied 10 and 11 right out of the gate, so that kind of frees you up a little bit."
Haas said he became aware of Mickelson's surge when he saw the scoreboard by the sixth green after he putted out for par. Mickelson had just stiffed an 8-iron to 4 feet for an eagle at No. 17 to get to 17 under and Haas trailed by five again.
In a wierd way, the knowledge was a good thing for Haas.
"I just remember thinking that maybe he wasn't going as low today, and then I looked up and saw that he was 6 under for the day," Haas said. "Just made me basically focus on me actually more than anything and just say, well, you can't do anything about him. That's how you have to do it. One shot at a time, I guess."