DORAL, Fla. -- For a while it was a dream scenario with Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods matching birdies and swapping the lead Friday at the WGC-Cadillac Championship.
Although Mickelson ended the day three shots behind his rival in a third-place tie at 10-under par, he was hopeful it was a warm-up for a weekend duel on Trump Doral's Blue Monster.
"I hope that (Saturday) I play a good round and so does he, and we get a chance to get paired together in Sunday's final round, because he seems to somehow bring out my best golf," Mickelson said of Woods.
It wasn't Woods as much as a bogey on Mickleson's fourth hole of Friday's round -- the par-3 13th hole -- that stoked his competitive juices.
"That kind of pissed me off to where it got me refocused, got me a little bit sharper," Mickelson said. "I had it in my head that I was going to birdie the next hole and get back to even."
He did that with the aid of an 8-iron approach that he called his best-struck shot of the day. He cashed it in with a 15-foot putt for birdie, "and that got me going and pushing for birdies and trying to push myself to go lower."
Mickelson birdied four of the first five holes after the turn. He ended the day with a 5-under 67 after hitting a 9-iron inches short of a hole-in-one on the par-3 No. 9.
The past two days were encouraging for Mickelson, looking to improve on two mediocre results on the West Coast that followed his victory at Phoenix.
Mickelson, who won the title at Doral in 2009, would like to reverse the result of his 2005 showdown when Woods edged him on the final day on the Blue Monster.
"Phil has been one of the, probably three or four guys, that I've battled my entire career against," Woods said. "I've always enjoyed playing against Phil down the stretch, and you know, we've had our battles I've won and he's won. So it's been good."
Taming the Monster
Players feasted on the Blue Monster again Friday in calm conditions on another postcard day. Forty-three of the 65 players shot par or better, after 49 did so in the opening round.
The trick is on the greens, which are super firm and fast due to very dry conditions.
"Don't know what they are doing with them, letting them burn out and dig them out Monday, so (it) doesn't matter that happens to them this weekend," said Graeme McDowell, referring to the renovation of the course that begins next week. "They are funny colors already, yellow and brown, and all sort of stuff going on out there.
"You've got to keep it in the fairways to give yourself a chance to control it coming into the greens."
That may become more difficult, with windier conditions expected this weekend.
McIlroy in the red
Rory McIlroy, the slumping No. 1-ranked player, had reason to smile after shooting 3-under for the day to move 2-under for the tournament.
"I said to my mum walking from the 15th to the 16th tee, 'Oh my God, I'm in red numbers,'" McIlroy said. "It's the first (below-par) number I've shot all year, competitively, anyway."
He said he made an adjustment on the driving range after Thursday's round: "I found that everything I'm doing I'm having to exaggerate. So if I think I'm taking it inside, I have to it inside more."
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