Eagle sends Levin to the top

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Spencer Levin has soared on the back of an eagle at 17 into a three-shot lead at the Phoenix Open in Arizona.

Spencer Levin has soared on the back of an eagle at 17 into a three-shot clubhouse lead in Friday’s unfinished second round of the frost-delayed Waste Management Phoenix Open in Arizona.

Chasing his first victory on the PGA Tour, the up-and-coming 27-year-old American fired a flawless eight-under-par 63 at the TPC Scottsdale to post a 14-under total of 128.

Levin holed out from a greenside bunker for his eagle on the par four 17th and then parred the 18th to take his halfway total to 14-under and finish the day three shots in front of fellow American Harrison Frazar, who was at 6-under for the day and 11-under overall with three holes to play.

Frazar was one of the 35 players who were still out on the course when fading light ended play for the day and as it was it was, it was US star Webb Simpson, who, as World No 6, is the highest-ranked player in the field, and a fourth American, John Hu, who held joint second spot in the clubhouse at 8-under with Kyle Stanley a shot back after a 66.

Webb, perhaps the biggest threat in the chasing pack, posted a 65 and unheralded Hu a 66.

First-round leaders Ryan Palmer and Jason Dufner carded 72s to lie a further shot back at six under in a six-way tie with Bubba Watson, Ben Crane and Bo Van Pelt on a leaderboard totally dominated by Americans.

The only non-Americans in the top 20 were South Africa’s Trevor Immelman and Australia’s Greg Chalmers who were in the 10-man log-jam at 5-under after respectively carding a 70 and a 69.

Phil Mickelson produced a mixed bag 70 that took him to four under after a bogey and double bogey on the front nine was made to look less important by four birdies on the back nine.

“The front nine, I don’t know what to say. I mean, it was just terrible,” he said. “I was able to kind of self-correct it a little bit on the back to turn it around.

“But it was not what I was hoping for going into the day, but I’m looking forward to playing the weekend and seeing if I can light it up.”

It was an extra long day for Levin, who had to complete three holes from the delayed first round before teeing off again in round two, but he was over-the-moon with his form, notably because things had not gone too well on the practice range before the start of the tournament.

“It’s kind of weird,” Levin said after covering his inward loop in a 5-under 31. “Yesterday on the range before I teed off, I didn’t feel good about my swing at all. I was hitting it all over the place and then I bogeyed my first hole.

“I told my caddie going to the next tee: ‘This might be a short week here.’ Shows you how crazy this game is, I guess. After that I just started playing good, simple as that.”

The key to his hot 65-63 start, Levin said, was the fact that he has been putting “really well”..

“If you’re going to shoot a low round you’ve got to putt good.

“I’m just going to try and stay as aggressive as I can the next two days. Somebody is going to be shooting low every day, so if you’re playing well, chances are someone else is, too.”

Following two consecutive mornings of one-hour frost delays, there was no chance of the second round finishing on Friday.

Forty-two players had to complete the first round on Friday morning and 35 will have to do to do the same thing on Saturday morning, hopefully without any further frost delays.

The cut was projected to fall at even-par 142 with former major winners Davis Love III and Angel Cabrera among those likely to miss out.

TOP 10 LEADERBOARD
(US unless stated, Par 71)
128 Spencer Levin 65 63
131 Harrison Frazar 66 and -6 after 15 holes
134 John Huh 68 66, Webb Simpson 65 69,
135 Kyle Stanley 69 66
136 Ryan Palmer 64 72, Ben Crane 69 67, Bubba Watson 66 70, Bo Van Pelt 65 71, Jason Dufner 64 72, Derek Lamely 66 70

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