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Mickelson surges into second at Abu Dhabi

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Phil Mickelson surged up the leaderboard with 9-under 63 to put himself in second place after the third round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, while Rory McIlroy was hit with a two-shot penalty for a rules infraction that dropped him into a tie for fourth.

Mickelson barely made the cut but had the best round of the day with nine birdies and an eagle along with two bogeys to sit two shots behind leader Craig Lee of Scotland. Lee shot 69 for 12-under 204 total.

"I just love the fact I am in contention and have an opportunity in my first tournament of the year here in Abu Dhabi," Mickelson said. "The biggest thing for me is that each day as the tournament has progressed I have felt a lot sharper and sharper."

McIlroy thought he was alone in second place a stroke behind Lee after finishing his round, but tournament officials then ruled that he took a drop incorrectly on the second hole and adjusted his score to double-bogey 7. That gave him 70 for the round to sit one stroke behind Mickelson and Gaganjeet Bhullar of India (66).

McIlroy had to take relief on the second hole when his ball ended up on a gallery crosswalk and went on to par the hole, but he was later told by the caddy of playing partner Ricardo Gonzalez that he had his left foot on the white line marking the drop area, meaning he had not taken "full relief" according to the rules.

Tournament officials reviewed the situation after McIlroy completed his round, with the golfer going back to the spot to show where he stood when he took the shot.

"I didn't even know my foot was on the line," McIlroy said. "We went back to see it again there and see where my divot was, and it was clear that I couldn't have played the shot with my feet anywhere else. I guess I was so much into the shot I didn't even realize. … There's a lot of stupid rules and this is one of them."

PGA: Patrick Reed shot a third straight 9-under 63 to break the tour record for relation to par for the first 54 holes, finishing at 27 under to take a seven-stroke lead into the final round of the Humana Challenge in La Quinta, Calif.

"Anytime you set a record on the PGA Tour it means you're doing something right," said Reed, 23, who broke the mark of 25 under set by Gay Brewer in the 1967 Pensacola Open and matched by three others.

CHAMPIONS: Bernhard Langer birdied six of his first eight holes on the way to 8-under 64 and Fred Couples had six birdies on his first 11 en route to 7-under 63 to tie for the lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship in Ka'upulehu-Kona, Hawaii. Both were at 14-under 130 overall. Second-round leader Rocco Mediate (70) fell three strokes back.

Mickelson surges into second at Abu Dhabi 01/18/14 [Last modified: Saturday, January 18, 2014 10:55pm]

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