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Page last updated at 23:23 GMT, Friday, 13 March 2009

Mickelson leads as McIlroy shines

-13 P Mickelson (USA) -11 N Watney (USA) -10 R McIlroy (NI), Perry (USA) -9 R Pampling (Aus), P Marksaeng (Tha), C Villegas (Col)
Selected others:
-7 P Harrington (Ire), P Casey (Eng) O Wilson (Eng) -3 T Woods (USA)

Rory McIlroy in action in Florida
McIlroy is bidding to become the youngest winner in PGA Tour history

Phil Mickelson took a two-shot lead at the top of the WGC-CA leaderboard as Rory McIlroy stormed into contention.

The teenager from Northern Ireland is on 10 under, three shots adrift of Mickelson, following a fine round of 66 - including six birdies and an eagle.

Mickelson carded a 66 to complement his opening round of 65, with compatriot Nick Watney poised on 11 under.

Tiger Woods finished on two under after a round of 70, while England's Ian Poulter is well placed on eight under.

Mickelson produced another consistent round to take the halfway lead, but it was McIlroy's round that turned heads at the par-72, 7,266-yard Blue Monster course in Florida.

The 19-year-old is aiming to become the youngest PGA Tour winner in history in only his second appearance in the USA since turning professional.

Bogeys at the 14th and 16th had seen him slip to seven under, but an eagle at the par-five eighth - his penultimate hole - and a birdie at the final ninth ensured McIlroy finished the day alongside Kenny Perry on 10 under.

With my short game as good as it has ever been, I can't wait for Augusta

Phil Mickelson

"I just made two bad bogeys to drop back to seven under and I just ripped a drive up the fairway and I had 268 to the hole," said McIlroy. "It was a perfect three wood for me.

"It was a nice way to finish there, making eagle at the eighth and then birdie the ninth."

Mickelson opened up with a birdie on the 10th, the first of six during his round, which featured a solitary bogey.

And the left-hander believes the best is still yet to come with Augusta on the horizon.

"I knew heading into this week I was playing well and I'm excited for this weekend but more than that I can feel my game really coming round for the Masters," said the world number three.

"To be hitting it as high and as far as I am hitting it, with my short game as good as it has ever been, I can't wait for Augusta."


Dismissing suggestions he was suffering from pain in his right knee, world number one Woods - 10 strokes adrift of compatriot Mickelson - said he enjoyed a better day with the putter than on Thursday.

"Today felt a lot better than yesterday and yesterday it felt a lot better than it did in Tucson," he said.

"I'm starting to get a feel for being in that environment again and it is starting to feel better and better."

Poulter was among the day's biggest movers with a round of 67, adding to his opening 69.

"I put a new driver in the bag today and it is going down the middle of the fairway most of the time, which is great, and I am giving myself lots of chances," said the 33-year-old.

"I didn't take too many of them but the ones I should have holed I did and I could have taken a few more. But it was a clean scorecard, no silly bogeys, which was good."

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