By Don Wade, Special to PGATOUR.COM
MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Lefty is lurking.
Phil Mickelson, the most decorated golfer in this year’s FedEx St. Jude Classic field with 41 career victories, shot a 5–under 65 in Saturday’s third round at TPC Southwind. He is now 7 under for the tournament and within striking distance of some up-and-comers atop the leaderboard.
Mickelson has improved each round, shooting 71 on Thursday and 67 on Friday. He was 2 under coming into Saturday and trailed leader Harris English by eight strokes.
“I’ve played better each round and I’m encouraged by that,” said Mickelson, who had an eagle and six birdies in the third round. “I had a few bogeys and I left a few birdies go, let a few shots slide.”
His round did not start the way he wanted as he bogeyed the first hole. And although he made up for it with an eagle on the 554-yard, par-5 third hole, he thought his birdie on the second hole was even more important.
“The putt on two was bigger,” Mickelson said. “It was going pretty quick but ended up catching the middle of the hole and going in.”
He also had a huge shot on No. 12 when he saved par with his longest putt of the day from more than 14 feet. Given the lack of wind Saturday and favorable pin placements, Mickelson said he fully expected somebody to shoot as low as 8 under, adding, "It’s certainly out there."
That, however, is not what he expects in Sunday’s final round. Windier conditions are likely and Mickelson expects “the pins to be tucked,” he said. A tougher scoring day just might play into Lefty’s hands.
Ranked seventh in the FedExCup standings, Mickelson has one victory this year at the Phoenix Open. Next week, of course, is the U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa.
“(5-under) was a pretty good score today, but not great given the setup,” he said. “I could really get some glimpses of my game getting where I want it. Hopefully, I’ll put together a really low round (Sunday) and catch the leaders.”