PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – The back nine didn't go according to plan for Phil Mickelson during the second round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and the par-3 14th hole at Monterey Peninsula served as the best illustration.
Mickelson's tee shot was a laser that covered the flag, and as it descended toward the green, Mickelson began talking to his golf ball.
"Drop! Drop!" he said.
And when it finally did, Mickelson asked a more pertinent question: "Why isn't anyone clapping?"
And then the realization set in.
"Did that go long?" he said.
Indeed, it was some 30 feet beyond the cup, and he had to settle for a two-putt par. It was like that for his final two hours. Mickelson was 7-under par through 10 holes and had two par 5s in front of him. He had to settle for a 65, and that wasn't even the most exciting round at Monterey Peninsula.
"I was 7 under for the round," Mickelson said. "I didn't expect to play 1 over coming in."
About an hour later, Sung Kang birdied three straight holes and walked to his final tee at the par-3 ninth needing a birdie to shoot 59. Kang didn't even know this. He thought par at Monterey Peninsula was a 72, so a shot at golf's magic number never crossed his mind.
He scrambled for par and an 11-under 60, a personal best and the course record. And it gave him a share of the lead with Hiroshi Iwata, who shot 66 at Pebble Beach.
One more round, and this tournament will really take shape with everyone having a crack at each of the three courses.
Going into Saturday, Iwata and Kang were at 11-under 132, one shot to par better than Mickelson, Freddie Jacobson (69 at Spyglass Hill) and Chez Reavie (70 at Pebble Beach). Mickelson and Kang move on to Pebble Beach on Saturday, along with the stars — in golf and in the entertainment business.
THE INTRODUCTION: Ray Romano has become a regular at Pebble Beach in recent years, but he wasn't real sure who his professional partner was when asked earlier in the week. That's OK — Kang didn't know much about Romano, either.
"One of my buddies came up and said, 'Oh, you're with Ray. He's very famous,'" Kang said. "I did some research on it. I Googled Ray and he was like on a really famous TV show for six or seven years. He gets like almost a third more earnings from TV drama show."
Asked if Romano knew him, Kang smiled and said, "I think he'll remember me after today."
THE KEY SHOT: Mickelson had only 11 putts on the front nine. He made a 40-foot eagle putt on No. 10. He drove the ball beautifully, and hit his irons where he was looking. But if there was a key shot in his second round, it was a hybrid that traveled all of 6 feet.
Mickelson pulled his approach on the par-5 12th down the bank, across the firm sand of a waste area and into the shrubs. He could not take a penalty stroke for an unplayable lie because to drop it no closer to the pin would have meant dropping it in the bushes.
He poked his hybrid into the shrubs, carefully measured how he would make contact and punched at it. The ball squirted out and stopped 6 feet away on the sand.
"Problem was, if I tried to get it too far, I was afraid it would roll up the face and roll back down in the bush like it did," Mickelson said. "So I just wanted to move it 5 or 6 feet so it didn't go up the slope."
He still made bogey. It could have been worse.
THE REASSESSMENT: Justin Rose was two shots to par out of the lead after a 68 at Monterey Peninsula. Statistically, that has been the easiest scoring course of the three in the rotation. Not to Rose, however. He said the greens aren't quite as good as Pebble Beach or Spyglass Hill, and if you don't see putts go in early, it makes it even harder. That's when someone let him know that Kang was 11 under for the day and playing his final hole.
"The greens are obviously perfect," he said.
THE PAR 5s: Jordan Spieth would love his position going into Pebble Beach if he could figure out how to play the par 5s.
He was around the green in two shots on all of the par 5s at Spyglass Hill on Thursday and made only one birdie. It was even worse at Monterey Peninsula. He didn't make birdie on any of them. Spieth shot a 69 and was at 3 under, even though he has played the par 5s in just 1 under for the week.
"From where I've been, they've pretty much all been par 4s for me," he said. "So it almost feels like I'm playing them 7 over. It's bizarre."
THE WARNING: For those watching at home, CBS Sports devotes most of Saturday's telecast to the celebrities.
Looking for Justin Rose? You might see more of Justin Timberlake.
Expect to see plenty of Mark Wahlberg and Ray Romano, with Aaron Rodgers and Larry Fitzgerald, and even Larry The Cable Guy.