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Phil Mickelson ties Vijay Singh atop star-packed BMW Championship leaderboard

CARMEL, Ind. — The BMW Championship turned into golf's version of an all-star game Saturday with Phil Mickelson making 10 birdies to share the lead with Vijay Singh, and a host of other proven players lined up behind them at Crooked Stick.

Mickelson shrugged when asked about all the stars on the leaderboard, only because he figured his name wasn't at the top and there was still work to be done. That was before Singh had his only three-putt of the tournament from 45 feet on the last hole that made him settle for 69.

They were at 16-under 200 going into today's final round.

Rory McIlroy, going for his second straight FedEx Cup playoff win and his PGA Tour-leading fourth of the year, birdied 18 to salvage an ordinary day with 69. He was one shot behind with Lee Westwood, a former world No. 1 who made all five of his birdies on the back nine for 68.

Dustin Johnson, who has finished no worse than fourth in the other two playoff events, had 67 and was in the group two behind that included Adam Scott and Robert Garrigus, who is trying to play his way into the FedEx Cup finale at East Lake in two weeks.

Tiger Woods turned his sloppy play around by chipping in from 25 feet on No. 9 that began a run of four birdies in a five-hole stretch. He settled for 71, ending his streak of six straight rounds in the 60s and putting him three back.

"The cream has risen to the top, hasn't it?" Westwood said of how the stars have come out in the chase for the FedEx Cup.

"It's the playoffs," Johnson said. "In the big tournaments, it seems like all year the top guys are up there every time."

The 49-year-old Singh hasn't won on tour in four years, and he was desperate to show he could put four good rounds together and end the drought.

"I've had three good rounds of putting," said Singh, who has only 74 putts for the week, "and I need one more."

Mickelson had his best score since he closed with 64 to win at Pebble Beach in February. He has gone quiet since the Masters, however, but a change to a claw-style putting grip has coincided with improved play. He finished the front nine with four straight birdies, caught Singh with birdie on 13, then overcame bogey on 14 with three birdies in his last four holes.

"It's taken me a little while to piece it back together, but I could tell last week that my game was back," Mickelson said.

"I'm within reach," Woods said. "I have to probably shoot 63 or 64 (today) to have a chance."

The 16 players separated by five shots have combined to win 29 majors and 21 World Golf Championships.

LPGA: Paula Creamer moved into position to end a two-year victory drought, shooting 6-under 65 for a two-stroke lead going into the final round of the Kingsmill Championship in Williamsburg, Va. She chipped in for birdie on the par-4 13th in her bogey-free round to finish at 16-under 197, the lowest 54-hole score in the history of the event. Second-round leader Jiyai Shin was second after shooting 69. Tampa's Cindy LaCrosse (76) was at 217.

Break for dad with ill son: Ryder Cup player Peter Hanson received an exemption from KLM Open officials to use his mobile phone during the tournament in Hilversum, Netherlands, so he could keep in contact with his wife over his seriously ill 1-year-old son who contracted a respiratory virus known as RS. He was isolated Friday in the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando, where the Swede is based with his family. With the virus being contagious, Hanson was warned to avoid his family, so he elected to stay in the KLM Open.

Phil Mickelson ties Vijay Singh atop star-packed BMW Championship leaderboard 09/08/12 [Last modified: Saturday, September 8, 2012 10:31pm]
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