Magical Mickelson moves two ahead at Pebble Beach

Sat Feb 13, 2016 8:04pm EST
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(Reuters) - Phil Mickelson, aiming to end a PGA Tour title drought of 31 months, relied on his magical short game to move two shots clear after the third round of the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in California on Saturday.

The American left-hander, chasing a record-equalling fifth victory in the pro-am event held on the picturesque Monterey Peninsula, fired a flawless six-under-par 66 on the Pebble Beach host course, one of three venues being used for this event.

Mickelson broke clear of a congested leaderboard with three consecutive birdies on his back nine on the way to a 16-under total of 199, two ahead of Japan's Hiroshi Iwata, who carded a 69 at Spyglass Hill.

Swede Freddie Jacobson, after a 68 at Monterey Peninsula Country Club, and South Korean Kang Sung-hoon, who returned a 70 at Pebble Beach, were a further stroke back at 13 under.

"I fought hard today," the 45-year-old Mickelson told Golf Channel. "The golf course was playing much more difficult with the firm greens and the wind picking up.

"There were a lot of holes I just had to fight for pars. I probably didn't strike it as well as I have been striking it this year, or even in the first couple of rounds.

"But I was able to get up and down, miss it in the right spot and salvage a lot pars on some difficult holes today."

An early morning fog delay gave way to unbroken sunshine at Pebble Beach before Iwata, Jacobson, England's Justin Rose and Kang held a share of the lead at 13 under midway through the round.

Mickelson then made it a five-way tie at the top when he chipped in for birdie from just off the back of the green at the par-five 18th, his ninth hole of the day.   Continued...

Phil Mickelson on the 13th hole during the third round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am at Pebble Beach Golf Links.  Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports