Mon, 07 Mar 2005

From: Reuters

Woods, Mickelson in Doral showdown

Agencies, Toronto

Tiger Woods fired a flawless nine-under par 63 to move within two strokes of leader Phil Mickelson at the Doral Open in Miami on Saturday, setting up a mouth-watering showdown to decide a title and the number one ranking.

A controversial pairing at last year's Ryder Cup, Woods and Mickelson failed to spark the U.S. but the duo can be expected to produce plenty of fireworks at the Doral Resort on Sunday.

Riding a wave of momentum from back-to-back wins in Phoenix and Pebble Beach, Mickelson began Saturday with a two-shot lead over Billy Andrade and a five-stroke advantage on Woods.

Mickelson needed all of his overnight lead to hold off a hard- charging Woods, who scorched the Blue Monster for birdies on eight of his final 12 holes to rocket up the leaderboard and sit two back at 18-under-par 198.

"I played really well today," beamed Woods, adding that he had promised his father he would shoot the low round for him on his birthday.

"It looks like I'm going to have to shoot another low one tomorrow.

"Phil is playing great golf, since the end of last year he's been playing some beautiful golf, so I'm going to have to go out there and shoot a nice solid number."

Woods's charge overshadowed another solid afternoon from Mickelson, who shot a six-under 66 to complete 54 holes on 20- under-par 196.

In Mexico, Cristie Kerr posted a four-under-par 68 on Saturday and opened a two-stroke clubhouse lead in the second round at the LPGA Mexico City event.

A 36-hole total of six-under 138 put Kerr two shots clear of South Korea's Sae-Hee Son and Moira Dunn. Sweden's Annika Sorenstam is one shot further back, alone in fourth.

Kerr has won four times on tour, with three of the triumphs coming last year. She is coming off a second-place finish last week and will be in the final group on Sunday.

"I am trying to mature as a person and a golfer," Kerr said. "I have a great caddie in Worth Blackwelder."

Sorenstam had two bogeys and two birdies over her first six holes but birdied Nos. 7, 11 and 13.

"I thought I played pretty well today," Sorenstam said. "I had a few bad breaks or bad bounces here and there and a few bad shots, but then again, I made some good putts in the end."