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Australia's Bowditch claims Texas Open lead

SAN ANTONIO -- Australian Steven Bowditch did enough before a double-bogey on his final hole to seize the lead on Friday in the second round of the U.S. PGA Tour's Texas Open.

Bowditch fired a five-under-par 67 that included five birdies and an eagle at the par-four 12th hole — where he holed out with a wedge from 83 yards.

His eight-under total of 136 gave him a one-shot lead over American Chad Collins, who carded a 66, and rookie Andrew Loupe who posted a second-round 70 for 137.

Loupe had been among the players who had to return to complete the first round on Friday morning, taking a one-shot lead with a 67.

It was a further two strokes back to Americans Cameron Beckman and Pat Perez on 139. Beckman posted a 70 and Perez a 71.

Bowditch took his late stumble in stride.

“It's going to happen out here,” he said, noting that it was balanced out by his eagle.

“My wedge shots have been pretty good,” he said. “I was trying to hit it a little past the pin and hope it came back to a reasonable distance and got lucky, it went in.”

Bowditch, 30, has made the cut in seven of his 12 U.S. PGA Tour starts this season, a share of 19th place at Pebble Beach is his only top 25 finish of the season.

“My putter has really been a big problem this year,” he said. “I'm not making many putts at the moment, so most of my birdies have been sort of coming inside of six or five feet.

“I've hit a lot of good wedge shots. I made a couple of good par saves on my back nine this afternoon, but all in all it's been more of hitting my approach shots pretty close.”

Phil Mickelson birdied his final hole, the par-five 18th, to complete a 70 and make the cut on the number at three-over 147.

Mickelson knew he needed birdie to have a chance to make the cut and went for the green with his second shot.

His ball stuck on the edge of the creek guarding the right of the green and he took his next shot with his left foot in the water, pitching to five feet and making the putt.

Mickelson, playing the Texas Open for the first time since 1992 in a bid to get more rounds in before the Masters next month, said he was seeing some encouraging signs as the year's first major approaches.

“It's important for me that mentally I get more into the round kind of like I did today, whereas yesterday I was very sloppy,” he said.

“I actually really like the way I'm driving the ball,” he said. “I'm hitting the ball hard, I'm hitting it high, my speed is back, my back feels great, my body feels great, and I'm able to hit the ball hard again.”

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Steven Bowditch, of Australia, watches his drive on the 17th hole during the second round of the Valero Texas Open golf tournament, in San Antonio, Texas on Friday, March 28.

(AP)

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