Weekend Birdie shootout expected at Phoenix Open

Weekend Preview – PGA Tour – Waste Management Phoenix Open – TPC Scottsdale – Scottsdale, Arizona–

Aussie Matt Jones, who attended Arizona State University and lives in Scottsdale, crafted back-to-back 65s to reach 12-under and the tie Bubba Watson for the 36-hole lead at the PGA Tour’s Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Jones, 33 years old, is looking for his first victory on tour. He was runner-up last season at The Greenbrier Classic as part of his 5 Top 10s in 2013. He ended up 48th on the Money List and 13th in the All-Around Ranking.

The pair leads Harris English and Aussie Greg Chalmers by two shots heading into the weekend. Hideki Matsuyama is tied for fourth place with Pat Perez and Kevin Stadler at 9-under and just three back.

Brandt Snedeker, who was a runner-up to Phil Mickelson here last year, fired a 7-under-64 Friday to work his way back into contention. He is now 8-under overall and T-8.

For Watson, he has four PGA Tour career wins including the Masters, but managed had just three Top 10s a season ago making 18 of 21 cuts and ending up 44th on the Money List. He is currently 30th in the Official World Golf Ranking.

On the betting side, Watson was a 25-to-1 pick at to win this championship. Jones was a 100-1 long shot this week.

Look for birdies to rule TPC Scottsdale Saturday during moving day. The back-nine features three eagle opportunities and plenty of leader board movement.

Mickelson shot 67 in round two to reach T-27, while overnight co-leader Y.E. Yang slipped back to T-16 after a 73.

Other Golf News:

  • Stephen Gallacher, the defending champion, shot a back-nine 28 to move into the overall lead at the European Tour’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic through three rounds. He leads Rory McIlroy by a shot.
  • Several players went low Friday to make the cut in Phoenix including Ryan Palmer (76-64). Other struggled to slip out of the competition like Keegan Bradley (66-80) and Tommy Gainey (66-79).
  • Asian Tour Qualifying School, a four-round competition, runs through Saturday, Feb. 1 at Imperial Lake View Golf Club.
  • Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood and Webb Simpson are all apart of the 16-player PGA Tour Player Advisory Council.
  • This is the final year of the firm Accenture sponsoring the World Golf Championship-Accenture Match Play Championship. Accenture will end its sponsorship after the February edition in Arizona. The firm had been associated with the event since 1999. During the past several years, a few high-profile stars have skipped the event and voiced displeasure for the layout at the Dove Mountain golf course.