Phil “The Thrill” was back for the third round after his steady play during the first two rounds. He heads into the final round at the Northern Trust Open tied for the lead with Keegan Bradley.
Mickelson hit shots through multiple eucalyptus trees, got up and down after hitting a ball off a Bottle Brush and had one of his drives land in a spectator’s shorts on the 15th hole.
While many players would be disheartened with the type of round Mickelson had, he said he was pleased with how the round turned out.
“This was a great round for me because I did not play well, and I shot 1-under par and I’m atop the leaderboard,” Mickelson said. “Usually when I win, I’ll have two good rounds and I’ll have two rounds that aren’t so great that I’ve got to keep somewhere in it to give myself a chance.”
Mickelson will need to have a good round on Sunday if he wants to win as 12 players are within four strokes of the lead.
Keegan Bradley tied with Bryce Molder and Aaron Baddeley for low round of the day at 5-under to jump into a share of the lead. Bradley only needed five putts the last five holes, making a 10-footer for par on the 18th hole to stay tied for the lead.
Bryce Molder was even hotter on the greens, one-putting the final eight holes to move into second place, one back with Pat Perez and Jonathan Byrd. Byrd also had his short game going, finishing with a total of 21 putts while only hitting six greens in regulation. Perez, on the other hand, struggled on the greens, three-putting from 10 feet on the third hole and four-putting from 60 feet on the fourth green.
Dustin Johnson had an opportunity to play in the final group before bogeying the 16th and 17th holes.
Johnson three-putted the 17th hole from three feet, but recovered to birdie No. 18 to stay two back with Fed Ex champion, Bill Haas, and defending champion, Baddeley.
Playing in the final round with Mickelson was important to Bradley, who considers Mickelson to be one of his mentors.
“I just look forward to the challenge of going out there and being in the hunt with him,” Bradley said. “Like I said, you never know what Phil is going to shoot. He could shoot a really low one or not, so you’ve got to try not to focus on him as much.”
Mickelson, the winner of last week’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, will be looking for his fourth career back-to-back victories, and his first back-to-back victories since 2006.
Round four will be televised on CBS starting at 3 p.m. EST.