Desert Classic: Steve Palmer's story so far and best bet for day three
Patrick Cantlay can force his way into the thick of things for Sunday
Sky Sports Golf, 8pm Saturday
Phil Mickelson followed up his spectacular opening round of 60 in the Desert Classic with a 68 to retain his lead at the halfway stage of the Californian shootout.
Mickelson, previously seen beating Tiger Woods in their $9m pay-per-view match, was a 40-1 chance ante-post for Desert Classic glory. The San Diego-born superstar is a general 3-1 chance with 36 holes to play.
Mickelson leads Australian rookie Curtis Luck by two shots, with Adam Hadwin and Steve Marino tied for third place a further shot behind. Defending champion Jon Rahm is lurking with menace, sharing fifth spot, four adrift of Mickelson.
In-running punters looking to get involved at this stage must do some studying of which courses the players have already got under their belt in this three-course event. The Stadium Course at PGA West is the most difficult of the three, so contenders who have got that track out of the way are in a strong position. La Quinta, where Mickelson made merry on Thursday, is the easiest layout, with the Nicklaus Tournament Course the middle of the trio in terms of difficulty.
From those in the top ten on the leaderboard, Abraham Ancer, Wyndham Clark, Rahm, Luck and Mickelson all face the Stadium Course today.
Patrick Cantlay and Sean O'Hair have the opportunity to feast on birdies at La Quinta, while Steve Marino, Adam Hadwin and Joey Garber are at the Nicklaus Tournament Course.
O'Hair (40-1) and his playing partner Charles Howell (66-1) could destroy La Quinta in round three and both are worth considering from five and eight shots behind respectively, but the shape of the leaderboard looks perfect for Cantlay to assert himself in his home state.
Cantlay should ease closer to the lead at La Quinta in round three, then can employ his tee-to-green class to handle the Stadium Course well when all the cut-makers gather there for the final round on Sunday. This is Cantlay's opening event of the year, so he was entitled to make a slow start, but 67, 66 on the more difficult tracks is an excellent foundation for the weekend.
The Long Beach-born 26-year-old ended 2018 with second place in the Shriners Open and fifth spot in the Hero World Challenge, he has carried that form into 2019, and is worth chancing at 8-1 to upset Mickelson and Rahm. Play resumes at 4.30pm UK and Ireland time.
2pts each-way 8-1 Betway, BoyleSports, Hills, SkyBet
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