LOS ANGELES: Phil Mickelson was poised to strike for a record-tying fifth Pebble Beach Pro Am crown after seizing a two-shot lead on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) with a third-round 66.
Mickelson’s six-under effort on the par-72 Pebble Beach Golf Links — one of three courses in use over the first three rounds of the US PGA Tour event – gave him a 54-hole total of 16-under 199.
“It’s fun to just have a chance going into Sunday,” said Mickelson, the five-time major winner who hasn’t won a US tour title since lifting the 2013 British Open trophy.
As Mickelson was eyeing his chance to match Mark O’Meara’s record of five Pebble Beach titles, reigning Masters and US Open champion Jordan Spieth was just happy to be hanging around for the final round.
The world number one looked out of sorts all day en route to a two-over par 74 at Pebble Beach for a one-under total of 214, just making the cut.
“What a really nice up and down to be able to play on Sunday,” said Spieth, who arrived at the 18th right on the projected cut line and drove into the rough.
With a tree in play he had to play out to the fairway, but finished with a three-footer for par.
“I had a bad attitude that first nine,” admitted Spieth, adding he didn’t adapt well to difficult, windy conditions.
A solid iron shot at the eighth, where he made par after his second bogey of the day at seven, helped get him on the right track.
But he was never able to mount a charge and finished the day with three bogeys and one birdie — no birdies on the back nine.
“I just couldn’t catch a break,” Spieth said, “Whether the putts were just mis-read — I drove the ball in two divots in a row … “
Mickelson said he didn’t drive it as well as he had earlier in the week, but he stayed patient and scrambled his way to the top.
“I fought hard today,” he said after a round that included six birdies without a bogey. “I thought the golf course was playing much more difficult with the firmer greens and the wind picking up. I was very pleased to shoot that round.”
Mickelson’s closest pursuer was Japanese veteran Hiroshi Iwata, who carded a three-under 69 on the par-72 Spyglass Hill course for 201.
Iwata, who shared the overnight lead with South Korea’s Kang Sung, shook off a bogey at his opening hole, the 10th, firing six birdies with three bogeys.
Kang shared third place with Sweden’s Freddie Jacobson on 202. Kang had three birdies and a bogey in his two-under 70 at Pebble Beach while Jacobson fired a three-under 68 on the par-71 Monterey Peninsula course.
Australia’s PGA Championship winner Jason Day made a move up the leaderboard with a 68 at Pebble Beach that left him six adrift, calling it “more of an ugly four-under.”