Mickelson streaks ahead at BellSouth

Phil Mickelson had five straight birdies on the front nine on Saturday.

updated: February 25, 2007 11:39 IST
  • Total Shares

Duluth, Georgia, USA:

Phil Mickelson had five straight birdies on the front nine on Saturday en route to a 5-under 67 after three rounds of the BellSouth Classic in Duluth. It could have been even better for Mickelson, but he closed with a double bogey to be 21-under for the tournament. Jonathan Byrd and 2004 winner Zach Johnson are tied for second, while Spain's Jose Maria Olazabal is fourth at 12 under. With Mickelson so far ahead at the TPC at Sugarloaf course, the competition of note is for second place. David Howell shot a 2-under-par 70 on Saturday to be among seven players tied at 7-under par, 14 shots off the pace. One of those players is Rich Beem, who eagled the 18th hole from a greenside bunker to card a third round 68. Jose Maria Olazabal is 12-under for the tournament after a round of 69. The Spaniard is a stroke behind Jonathan Byrd and Zach Johnson, and nine shots behind Mickelson. Solid round Luke Donald had a solid round of 2-under par until a quadruple-bogey on 18 left him at 74 for the round and 4-under for the tournament. Johnson shot an 8-under-par 64 on Saturday to be 13 under for the tournament. He had the same score after three rounds in 2004. But that year the total was good for a three-shot lead. Byrd shot a 66 - his third straight round under 70. He had an amazing stretch of six straight birdies capped by holing a pitch shot at the 17th. Mickelson was 24 under and up by 12 before a bogey on 15. He also slipped up at the 18th with a double bogey. The late problems kept Mickelson from becoming the first player in six years to lead by at least 10 strokes entering the final round of a PGA tournament. Tiger Woods led by 10 entering the final round of the 2000 US Open. Mickelson has been attacking tournament records all week. He matched the course record with a first-round 63, and then set a tournament record with his 16-under total through 36 holes. On Saturday, he matched the tournament's lowest 54-hole total. Larry Nelson was 21 under through three rounds of the 1998 BellSouth. Barring a collapse on Sunday, Mickelson will become the first three-time winner of the BellSouth Classic. (AP)