The story of Scottsdale's Braxton Marquez got even better on Friday when he followed up his 3-over-par 74 with a 65 and made the tournament cut.
The amateur golfer, now a senior at Arizona State, was a Monday qualifier for the tournament. It's rare that an amateur gets into a PGA Tour event, and it's even more of a long shot for him to make the cut.
And that leaves Marquez as the feel-good story of the tournament.
Growing up in the Valley, he's spent years at the Phoenix Open working for his family's catering business in skyboxes or working on the driving range shagging and cleaning golf balls for the professionals. Several months ago, his father, and head of the catering business, died of cancer.
Braxton's father had been an avid golfer, and Braxton said after qualifying for the Phoenix Open on Monday his dad was there with him urging him on while playing through the rain and getting one of the last four spots into the tourney.
Starting Thursday in his first-ever PGA Tour event, Marquez began acting like he belongs on the golf course at TPC Scottsdale. He called Thursday's round of 74 a dream come true. Friday's play was anything short of brilliant.
Marquez had seven birdies and just one bogey. Not bad for a player who has been struggling to stay in the top five of Arizona State's lineup this season.
Maybe dad was there again on Friday.
So tired and so worn out from playing 108 holes of golf last week at the World Match Play Championship, Ian Poulter had already booked a flight out of Phoenix Friday afternoon.
A lackluster round of 73 on Thursday had him thinking he would miss the 36-hole cut and miss out on the weekend. After winning last week, a worn-out Poulter even considered withdrawing from his first-ever Phoenix Open.
"I was so tired and exhausted," Poulter said. "Yesterday I really struggled. I couldn't see where a birdie was coming from. I really was not with it at all and I still didn't feel too clever this morning. You know, I even booked a plane for takeoff for 3 this afternoon."
Things certainly changed Friday for Poulter as he turned in the best round of the day at 8-under 63. He's at 6 under for the tournament and tied for 11th heading into the weekend.
Not A TPC Scottsdale Fan
Pat Perez is not a man without an opinion. And he's usually not afraid to share it. For one of the rare occasions, Perez, who played collegiately at Arizona State, is playing good golf at TPC Scottsdale.
"I've only made the cut, I think, three times of nine," Perez said.
Even though he lives in Scottsdale, the TPC is not one of Perez's favorite golf courses, and his play has reflected that.
"The course just doesn't fit my eye," he said. "I never play here because during the rest of the year the course is never in good shape. You never see those pins, you never see the greens this fast, you don't get the rough. The course is never in the condition you see it right now."
Perez made the cut with ease. After rounds of 65 and 68 he is just two shots off the lead heading into the final 36 holes.
Friday's attendance was 101,709 compared to last year's Friday number of 110,013. For the week, attendance is still up over 2009's total.
The one golfer that doesn't really seem to fit in on the Phoenix Open leader board is former champion Tom Lehman.
This is a tournament full of young guns in their 20s like Camilo Villegas, Anthony Kim, Rickie Fowler and Alvaro Quiros.
Eligible for the senior tour, the 50-year old Lehman still makes appearances at his favorite tournaments and is proving he can still play with the kids.
Lehman has rounds of 66 and 67 through the first two days and is at 9-under par for the tournament. He is tied for sixth heading into today's third round.
"These guys are awfully good and I know they are,' Lehman said. "I know I can compete for a while. Over the long haul it would be difficult. I can handle one or two weeks."
Working on the weekend
In just his third PGA Tour event of the year, Kim is tied for third heading into the weekend. He's just happy he made the cut.
"I'm glad I'm playing on the weekend. It's been tough to make it to Saturday and Sunday here," Kim said. "There's so much going on and it's hard to stay focused. My caddie is keeping me in line."
Kim is one shot off the lead at 10-under par after rounds of 67 and 65. He called his opening round of 67 his best ball-striking round as a professional. Kim hit 17 greens and missed just one fairway.