By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- A session with Butch Harmon on Saturday morning was pivotal in the 67 Phil Mickelson shot that afternoon.
Harmon landed in Scottsdale around 7:30 a.m. local time and met Mickelson on the range at TPC Scottsdale. The two worked together for several hours and a more confident Mickelson emerged in the third round.
"Butch is the best," Lefty said. "He can identify things so quickly and get you straightened out right away."
The two-time champion hit eight fairways on Saturday after finding just three in shooting 70 the previous day. Mickelson also averaged 307 yards off the tee which is 18 further than his average this year. He remains tied for first in putting after using 28 on Saturday.
"I flew Butch in this morning because yesterday the front nine kind of shook me up," Mickelson explained. He had opened with a 38 on that segment to fall back to even par and in danger of missing the cut.
"We had a really good session, and I was able to feel much more confident. I hit a lot of good shots, especially early on, and made some birdies. I thought that certainly there were some birdies there the last five or six holes, but they weren't easy, either, and I thought there were a lot of bogeys and doubles."
Mickelson, who made five birdies and dropped just one shot to par on Saturday, is 8 under for the tournament. He made three birdies in his first four holes on the back nine but at the same time, he was disappointed because he wasn't able to take advantage of the second par five or driveable par-4 17th.
"I'd like to be further up, but given where I was 27 holes ago, I'm in a really good spot," Mickelson said. "I'm starting to play some good golf, and I'm starting to get a little bit of momentum. I feel great with the putter. Ball-striking today after a session with Butch in the morning feels much better, and I'm excited to get back out and play."
Of course, Mickelson will head to the first tee on Sunday trailing Spencer Levin by nine strokes. He knows he faces an uphill battle but Mickelson also knows enough to stay focused on his own game.
"Just shoot a good round, because out here what'll happen is when you start making mistakes or hitting a bad shot or two, it's very hard to turn it around because there's water, there's trouble everywhere, and there's also opportunities to make birdies and eagles," he said. "So if I can get a hot hand and put some pressure, you never know what might happen."