The scoring heated up considerably during Friday’s second round of the Fry’s Electronics Open, with two players in particular posting impressive rounds at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale.
Ryan Moore equaled his career best with a 7-under-par 63. The Las Vegas pro, who won the Thunderbird International in 2001 on the same course when he was just 18 years old, held a three-shot lead over Japan’s Daisuke Maruyama, Ben Crane and Mark Hensby, an Australian who lives in Mesa.
“There’s more low scores out there,’’ warned Moore, who was at 11-under 129 at the midpoint, and came within a bogey at the 17th hole of tying the low 36-hole lead on the PGA Tour this season.
Considering Hensby carded a tournament-best 61, which also was a career best, who knows how low they will go before this Fall Series event concludes on Sunday.
Despite such red-hot numbers from the front-runners, the marquee took a major hit on this day before a crowd announced at 7,900. The chief casualty was Phil Mickelson, the No. 2 player in the world and the superstar the Fry’s Electronics Open had been built around.
“If the tournament comes back here next year, I’d love to have another shot at it,’’ said Mickelson, who came within a triple-bogey 7 on his third from the last hole of making the cut. “I felt like I might play well this week, and it just wasn’t there.’’
But Lefty wasn’t the only one who didn’t get it right. Also sent packing was Aaron Baddeley, the FBR Open winner who lives in Scottsdale, as well as crowd favorite John Daly. And joining them on the missing-in-action list were Tom Lehman, Mark Calcavecchia, Stewart Cink and David Duval.
That Moore was the leader was not necessarily a surprise, as the only thing that’s ever gotten in the way of his immense talent was a severe hand injury he suffered in 2005 and the surgery that followed last year.
But last week at the Fry’s.com Open, Moore said he figured out something he was doing wrong — a simple hand-position adjustment.
“It just clicked,’’ said Moore. “My hand wasn’t really strong enough at the beginning of this year to be able to do what I’m doing now. ... It’s not my grip or anything. It’s just honestly, just a little bit more forward press with my hands instead of sitting back fairly neutral.’’
Whatever, the bearded Moore, who wears a Castro-style hat, was a birdie machine on this day, as he hammered in eight of them. Had he not made the lone bogey down the stretch, Moore would have equaled Jesper Parnevik’s season-best, four-shot lead recorded at the recent Texas Open.
Hensby was even more on fire, holing nine birdies while playing bogey-free golf. Considering he was 5-over after his first 10 holes of the tournament, it was a comeback of monumental proportions to jump all the way from a tie for 80th place to 8 under.
“I was working on something and it wasn’t working,’’ Hensby quipped of his near-disastrous start over those first 10 holes. “Then I got a feel out there that something ... it was just out of the blue.’’
But asked what that “something’’ was, Hensby wasn’t quite as informative as Moore. “That’s a secret,’’ said Hensby with a smile.
Crane’s 66 also was noteworthy, especially since he just returned to the Tour last week after a six-month absence caused by a chronic bad back. The other player in that three-way tie for second, Maruyama, waltzed in with a 65.
But the low scores didn’t stop there, as Mike Weir recorded a 64. It was Weir’s best round this season, and helped move him into a three-way tie for fifth at 7 under.
The cut of 140 sliced the field to 75 players. Tee times start today at 8:54 a.m.