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Hot putter boosts McDowell's lead to three shots

SHANGHAI — The HSBC Champions has a familiar look to Graeme McDowell, with a few exceptions.

He goes into the weekend at Sheshan International in contention for a World Golf Championship, with Ian Poulter and a big-hitting American alongside. Only, now, the American is Masters champion Bubba Watson — not Dustin Johnson, who overpowered the course on his way to victory last year.

And at least this time, McDowell has the lead.

McDowell leaned on a hot putter to carry him to another 5-under 67 on Friday. That gave him a three-shot lead over Poulter, with Watson and Hiroshi Iwata of Japan right behind.

Johnson is on a “voluntary leave” for what he described as personal challenges.

Poulter and Watson showed that a deficit can be made up quickly, particularly on the dynamic finishing holes at Sheshan International.

Poulter birdied four of the last five holes for a 67.

Watson was seven shots behind when he made birdie on the par-5 14th. He blasted a drive just through the end of the fairway on the 487-yard 15th hole and hit gap wedge to 8 feet for birdie. He chipped in for birdies on the next two holes, and had a simple up-and-down on the par-5 18th to end his round of 67 with five straight birdies. Iwata had a 65 to join Watson at 6 under.

SANDERSON FARMS: At Jackson, Miss., Jason Allred of Ashland was 1 under par on his round and one shot clear of the cut line when play was suspended because of darkness with him needing to finish three holes in the Sanderson Farms Championship..

Fifteen players were unable to finish, including first-round leader Sebastian Cappelen, who was 3 over for the round and 4 under overall with two holes left. They’ll finish their rounds this morning.

Allred started on the back nine, made the turn at even, then went bogey, birdie, birdie before making three pars prior to stoppage.

David Toms and John Rollins each shot 6-under 66 to share the second-round lead. The 47-year-old Toms — a 13-time PGA Tour winner — was bogey-free through the first two rounds. He hasn’t won since 2011.

Rollins had eight birdies and two bogeys at the Country Club of Jackson. He won the last of his three tour titles in 2009 and finished 177th on the money list last season.

Toms and Rollins were at 10-under 134.

MIZUNO CLASSIC: At Shima, Japan, Morgan Pressel shot a 5-under 67 in the Mizuno Classic to take a one-stroke lead over 51-year-old Laura Davies and Chella Choi.

Pressel had five birdies at Kintetsu Kashikojima. Davies won the last of her 20 LPGA Tour titles in 2001. The Englishwoman also has 45 victories on the Ladies European Tour.

Choi, from South Korea, birdied four of the last seven holes.

Japan’s Kotono Kozuma was two strokes back at 69 along with South Koreans Ilhee Lee and Mi Hyang Lee and Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlam.

Second-ranked Stacy Lewis, the 2012 winner, was at 70 in a group that included Australia’s Karrie Webb.