Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Golf

Phil Mickelson takes lead at Pebble Beach

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PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Far away from the commotion of the celebrities Saturday at Pebble Beach, the most accomplished star among golfers quietly went about his business.

That won't be the case for Phil Mickelson today.

Mickelson shot 6-under 66 in the third round of the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, though it only looked easy on the card. He birdied all but one par 3, scrambled for par on half of his holes and wound up with his first 54-hole lead since the 2013 U.S. Open.

The spotlight will be all his in the final round.

Mickelson only needed 21 putts to get to 16-under 199, two shots ahead of Hiroshi Iwata, who shot 69 at Spyglass Hill.

Mickelson, 45, could end the longest victory drought of his career — 52 events worldwide since he last won at Muirfield in the 2013 British Open. Iwata, 35, has two victories on the Japanese Tour.

The next six players on the leaderboard have combined for four PGA Tour victories. Mickelson will be going for No. 43.

"I was very pleased to shoot that round, obviously, but there were a lot of holes I just had to fight for pars," Mickelson said. "It wasn't a pushover by any means."

He planned to bring in Andrew Getson, his new swing coach, to sharpen his game ahead of the final round.

Iwata, who tied a major championship record with 63 at Whistling Straits in the 2015 PGA Championship, had six birdies.

He has yet to finish in the top 20 in America.

"I haven't felt any nerves or I haven't felt any pressure quite yet … I just want to make sure I go out there (in) a good mental condition," Iwata said.

Freddie Jacobson had 68 at Monterey Peninsula, which for the first time all week played the toughest of the three courses because of a brisk wind. He was three shots behind, along with Sung Kang, who had 70 at Pebble Beach. Kang and Iwata were co-leaders heading into Saturday.

World No. 1 Jordan Spieth was happy to have a tee time today.

He struggled on the par 5s for the third straight round, playing them at 1 over at Pebble Beach. He had to get up and down for par on the par-5 18th for 74 to make the cut on the number.

"I'm not in contention. It will be the first stress-free round that I've really had in quite a while where I've played a Sunday not having a chance to win," Spieth said. "It's not good, but at the same time, I think I can get into a groove and not lose any hair over the back nine. I'm going to fire at some pins."

Mickelson played at Pebble Beach with the rest of the celebrities, who are the main attraction on Saturdays, except that Lefty teed off on the back nine away from all the commotion.

Champions: Bernhard Langer followed his opening 10-under 62 with 66 to increase his lead to seven strokes at the Chubb Classic in Naples. At 16-under 128, he's closing in on the event record of 20 under at TwinEagles that he set in 2011 and Kenny Perry matched in 2012.

European: Charl Schwartzel shot 66 for 9-under 201 total and a one-shot lead after three rounds at the Tshwane Open in Pretoria, South Africa.

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