Sizzling putter helps Watson into two-shot lead

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Long-hitting American Bubba Watson used a red-hot putter to charge two strokes clear of the field in the weather-delayed second round of the Bob Hope Classic at La Quinta, California on Friday.

Making the most of his renowned power and rain-softened greens, Watson fired a sparkling 10-under-par 62 at the SilverRock Resort, one of four venues hosting the five-round pro-am celebrity event in the California desert.

Rookie Alex Prugh, making only his third appearance on the PGA Tour, remained in second place after following his opening 64 with a 66 on the Palmer Private course at PGA West.

First-round leader Shane Bertsch carded a 69 to sit a further stroke back at 13 under, level with fellow Americans Joe Ogilvie (66), Martin Flores (65) and Collins (64), who all played on the Nicklaus course.

Left-hander Watson, who began the day four shots off the pace, was delighted with his display on the toughest of the four hosting venues in the California desert.

"My length is definitely going to play a part on that golf course because it's got wide fairways and I can rip it if I want to," the 31-year-old told reporters after a round featuring nine birdies, an eagle at the fifth and a bogey.

"But I putted well today," added Watson, who totaled only 24 putts. "That was my key. I hit a lot of good shots but I putted well. If I don't make all the putts, I'm not talking to you right now."


Watson, a self-taught golfer who is known for his creative shot-making, was annoyed to collect his first bogey of the week at the par-three 14th where his approach spun off the green.

"I was mad about that," he said. "I tried to hit the little eight and came up short, spun off the green. Then I tried to putt it, it started hopping on me and left it about 15 feet short. Missed it."

Prugh, who qualified for the PGA Tour by finishing 16th in the Nationwide Tour money list last year, stayed in touch with the lead after covering the four par-fives in five under.

"I played the par-fives pretty well, making an eagle on 18 there," he said. "That was the highlight of my round, birdieing 17 and then eagling 18 ... those don't add up to very much."

Thursday's scheduled action was entirely washed out by heavy rain in the La Quinta area and the second round eventually began after a delay of two-and-a-half hours on Friday.

Due to the wet conditions on all four courses, the players were again permitted to lift, clean and place balls in the fairway.

"Conditions really weren't bad at all," Bertsch said. "It was real scoreable."

(Writing by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Peter Rutherford)