When he finished tied for third at the CareerBuilder Challenge two weeks ago, Phil Mickelson said he was probably a week away from having a chance to win.
Maybe he was a week off on his prediction.
The 45-year-old finds himself in contention at the Waste Management Phoenix Open after a third-round, bogey-free, 6-under 65 has him five shots off of the lead of Danny Lee, who is at 13-under 200. Mickelson moved up 31 spots on the leaderboard on Saturday, landing himself a spot in the next-to-last threesome for the final round.
That’s a way better position for Mickelson than last weekend at the weather-warped Farmers Insurance Open. He missed the cut and had the weekend off.
Between Mickelson and Lee are Rickie Fowler and Hideki Matsuyama, tied for second at 10 under par and three in back of the lead, and Bryce Molder and Boo Weekley, who are 9 under par and tied for fourth.
Mickelson, a three-time champion of this event including in 2013, didn’t play perfect golf, but he managed to even turn bad situations into circles on the scorecard. Playing back-to-front on Saturday, Mickelson went for the green at the par-5 15th with a hybrid from 255 yards. The shot flailed way to the left, so far, in fact, that the ball crossed the water hazard down the left side of the hole and landed in the 11th fairway. From there, he hit his third shot to 16 feet and made the birdie putt.
“It was the worst shot of the year and I ended up making a birdie,” said Mickelson.
The Arizona State product made some 125 feet of putts on Saturday, draining five putts of more than 10 feet, including a 30-foot double-breaking birdie on his last hole, the ninth. It was the flat stick that was the difference for Mickelson, who feels he is working well with the changes he’s made to his swing with new teacher Andrew Getson.
“I actually feel like I did the same things tee to green as I did the first couple of days, but I scored a lot better,” said Mickelson. “It was nice to finally get a lot out of the round.”
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