Keegan Bradley poised for 4th PGA Tour win, Phil Mickelson's struggles continue in Malaysia

Stanley Chou

The Boston Red Sox are in the World Series, the Bruins are winning, and Keegan Bradley is smacking the golf ball better than he has in some time. It's another story for Bradley's pal, Phil Mickelson, who likely can't wait for his 2013 season to end.

Keegan Bradley, the 2011 PGA champion who has rated tossing the ceremonial first pitch at Fenway Park among his most thrilling moments, is keeping tabs on how his revered Red Sox are doing in the World Series but  has his eyes squarely on the prize in Malaysia.

The New England native, who’s receiving regular briefings on the progress of the Sox, went on a tear in Friday’s second round of the CIMB Classic, canning five birdies in six holes down the stretch for a 6-under 66 and a four-shot lead over Ryan Moore after 36 holes.

"My girlfriend, Jillian, is a big Red Sox fan too and she was giving me updates as best she could," Bradley told reporters after getting to 13-under for the week. "It's tough that we don't get to watch the World Series. I know that they replay it later today, but it's more fun knowing what's going on."

Poised to win his fourth PGA Tour event and his first since the 2012 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Bradley would not even let the Sox’ 4-2 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday night get him down.

''In the back of my mind, I'm wondering what's going on [in the series, which is tied at one apiece]," said Bradley, a diehard fan of all Boston sports teams. ''I know my mom at home is flipping back and forth, watching. It's fun to know yesterday the Red Sox won, the Bruins won and I shot 7-under.''

Bradley’s good friend and mentor, Phil Mickelson, had a far different view of the proceedings at Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club as struggles with his swing continued. After posting a lackluster 71 on Thursday, Lefty said his swing was "as far off as it’s ever been."

Friday was marginally better for Bradley’s Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup partner, who, though this week’s tourney is the third on the tour’s 2013-2014 calendar, will finish his 2013 season at next week’s WGC-HSBC Champions in China.

''I don't have the control of the swing that I'd like,'' he said after signing for a 70 and heading to the weekend 10 shots off Bradley’s lead. ''I'm not sure which side I'm going to miss it on and playing this golf course from the rough, which I did today, is extremely difficult. The rough is tough. You're fighting for pars the whole day.''

Following the Shanghai contest, Mickelson will work on his game during his hiatus while figuring out which events to cull from his schedule for next year. The 43-year-old five-time major champion confirmed prior to the Kuala Lumpur competition that he would cut back on the 21 or so events he has played on average for the last five years so he can concentrate more fully on winning the U.S. Open, which would give him a career Grand Slam.

''I've got a lot of issues. I think that I'll address it more in the off-season," he said about his swing. "This week and next week, it's going to be difficult."

Not so for Bradley, who was nearly flawless, with just one bogey, in his first two rounds.

''I felt as in control of my golf ball today as maybe I've ever felt,'' said Bradley, who cruised to Rookie of the Year honors two years ago after capturing the first major he ever entered. "It's hard to remember a time where I've been more dialed in than these last two days."

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