Things are going so well for Phil Mickelson in the BellSouth Classic that he embraced his first adversity in the tournament as yet another positive.
Mickelson was on pace to challenge the lowest 54-hole total in PGA Tour history before he lost three strokes on his last three holes Saturday, forcing him to settle for a 5-under-par 67 and an eight-stroke lead at 21-under 195 at Duluth, Ga.
A double bogey on 18, where he twice found water, was his worst hole of three rounds. He finished four strokes off the best 54-hole total on a par-72 course in PGA Tour history – Gay Brewer’s 25-under 191 in the 1967 Pensacola Open.
Was Mickelson disappointed?
“Actually, no,” he said. “It’s probably a positive because the last thing I want to do is have a record or be thinking about it. That’s not my goal right now. It’s to get my game shot and get some momentum, not just to finish this tournament properly, but for next week.”
Mickelson is in position for a wire-to-wire victory that would affirm his status as one of the favorites in the Masters next week.
Jonathan Byrd and 2004 winner Zach Johnson are tied for second at 203. Jose Maria Olazabal was fourth at 12 under 204.
Morris Hatalsky shot a 5-under 67 to take a one-stroke lead over Scott Simpson, Gil Morgan, Danny Edwards, Tom Purtzer and Massy Kuramoto after the second round of the Blue Agave Golf Classic in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
Hatalsky, who won the last of his two Champions Tour titles in 2003, had a 7-under 137 total on the Vista Vallarta Golf Club course.
Edwards and Kuramoto shot 65s, Purtzer had a 67, Morgan a 70 and Simpson a 71.
Hatalsky made a pair of 15-foot birdie putts on Nos. 7 and 8 and added an 8-footer on No. 9.