SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Phil Mickelson made it to the weekend in the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Another popular left-hander and a fellow former Arizona State player set the pace in the PGA Tour event.

A week after withdrawing from a tournament in San Diego because of back pain, Mickelson shot a 4-under-par 67 in his afternoon round Friday at TPC Scottsdale. The defending champion was eight strokes behind leaders Bubba Watson (66) and Matt Jones (65), who were at 12 under for 36 holes.

“I’m not totally out of it,” Mickelson said. “Obviously, heading into the weekend, I’d like to be closer, but as we have seen in the past, there is that 8-, 9-, 10-, in some cases 11-under par round out there.”

Indeed, the three-time champion has shot 11-under 60 twice in the event, including last year.

Watson, the long-hitting left-hander who won the 2012 Masters, said, “It’s right where I want to be going into the weekend.”

Jones is an Australian who played at Arizona State and lives in Scottsdale.

Ryan Moore (71) of Puyallup was tied for 15th place at 5 under. Michael Putnam, who is from University Place, was at 1 under with two holes to play.

Players with 36-hole scores of even-par 142 and worse are projected to miss the cut, a group that includes ex-Washington Husky Richard H. Lee (71-72—143) and Gig Harbor’s Kyle Stanley (78-75—153).

Attendance was 123,674.

McIlroy leads

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Rory McIlroy shot a 2-under 70 in the second round to lead the Dubai Desert Classic by one stroke over Brooks Koepka (65).

McIlroy was at 11 under.

Tiger Woods (73), ranked No. 1 in the world, was tied for 44th place at 3 under in a group that included Seattle native Fred Couples (71).

Note

• Former LPGA player Danielle Downey died in a single-car accident Thursday in Auburn, Ala. She was 33. Downey was in her second season as Auburn’s director of golf operations.