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Mickelson hanging tough at Riviera

By DOUG FERGUSON
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES – Phil Mickelson learned as junior golfer to never underestimate anyone, no matter the size of his lead or the pedigree of his opponent.

And while the odds of Lefty finally winning in L.A. looked good as ever Saturday at the Northern Trust, where he shot a 1-under 70 for a one-shot lead over Jeff Quinney, two holes showed how much work remains to add Riviera to his West Coast collection of trophies.

One came at the fabled par-3 sixth, where Quinney hit a 7-iron that he thought was headed for the bunker in the middle of the green, only to land just to the right and roll back into the cup for an ace. The other came at the end of the third round when Quinney holed a 35-foot birdie putt to close the margin to one stroke.

“If the guy is good enough to be in the last group, he’s obviously playing well enough to win,” Mickelson said. “I know that I won’t be handed anything tomorrow. I know how well Jeff is playing. And I know that there are guys that are right there and can shoot a low round tomorrow. It’s my job to go out and hit solid shots.”

Mickelson was at 11-under 202, and Quinney might be the only guy he has to worry about.

John Rollins lost momentum with consecutive bogeys and shot 69, leaving him five shots behind. Scott Verplank overcame a four-putt from 30 feet on the fringe at the par-5 first for a 71 that put him at 208, along with Stuart Appleby (69) and Vaughn Taylor (71).

A year ago, Mickelson had a one-shot lead over Padraig Harrington with five experienced players separated by only three shots. He wound up losing in a playoff to Charles Howell III.

“I like it better this time,” Mickelson said.

And well he should.

Mickelson has 32 career victories, 15 of those coming in every West Coast Swing city but Los Angeles. He is 18-7 when he has at least a share of the lead going into the final round.

“Other than Tiger, he’s probably the next best front-runner,” Verplank said. “He’s awful good.”

Quinney, a former U.S. Amateur champion who took five years to reach the PGA Tour, has held the 54-hole lead only once, last year in Phoenix, and bogeyed the last two holes to finish third.

“He’s going to bring a lot to the table,” Quinney said. “I have to bring my best to the table.”

Quinney did not sound the least bit concerned about a four-shot deficit to Mickelson, saying after his second round that Riviera is not the type of course where one has to shoot 64 to make up ground.

Then, he looked as though he might do just that.

Quinney birdied the first hole with a long chip across the green on the par 5, then gained another shot when Lefty three-putted for bogey on No. 4. Quinney then holed a 20-foot birdie putt to reduce the lead to one-shot going into the sixth hole.

Then came an ace that he heard, but never really saw.

With a 7-iron from 163 yards, the ball landed to the edge of the bunker and trickled down toward the cup. Quinney couldn’t see because of the haze, but figured he was in decent safe and walked away from the tee. He looked over his left shoulder one last time, and his eyes grew wide when he heard an enormous cheer from the hill around the green.

He ran toward his caddie, unsure whether to hug or high-five, and it turned out to be a clumsy celebration.

“We need to get that organized,” he said.

That gave him the lead, but only for as long as Mickelson hit 8-iron to 5 feet and made birdie, putting both at 10 under.

“I thought that was as good of a response as I could have expected,” Mickelson said. “I thought that was a big 2 for me.”

They matched birdies at No. 10 – Quinney with a wedge to 2 feet, Mickelson by driving to the front of the green – and neither showed signs of backing down. But everything changed with one swing.

Mickelson was on the par-5 11th green in two, Quinney just short of the bunker. Quinney caught two much ball, however, and it sailed over the green. He chipped back to 15 feet and did well to escape with bogey.

But it was a two-shot swing after Mickelson two-putted for birdie, and Quinney spent the rest of the back nine trying to catch up. Mickelson saved par with a 10-foot putt on No. 15, then made par from about 6 feet on the final hole to keep his lead.

It wasn’t a big lead, not nearly as big as Mickelson wanted. But it was good enough for him.

“Tomorrow we’ll go head-to-head, and if I can just tie him, tie goes to me,” Mickelson said. “So that’s the nice thing about having a shot in hand.”

Divots: Pat Perez isn’t any more optimistic about the Accenture Match Play Championship than he was last week, when he thought he was playing Tiger Woods in the first round and didn’t want to embarrass himself. He was told Saturday morning he would be playing Phil Mickelson. “Yeah, that’s much better, because he’s playing like (dirt) right now,” Perez said with typical sarcasm. J.B. Holmes will play Woods and had a different outlook. “I’m in,” he said. “That’s all that matters.” … Marc Turnesa was on his way home Saturday morning until John Merrick missed a 4-foot par putt, meaning 78 players made the cut at 3 over. Turnesa then shot 67 and moved up to a tie for 29th at 1-under 212.

Scores with relation to par from the third round of the Northern Trust Open, played Feb. 16 at the par-71, 7,279-yard Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles:

1. Phil Mickelson 68-64-70–202

-11 2. Jeff Quinney 69-67-67–203

-10 3. John Rollins 68-70-69–207

-6 4. Stuart Appleby 69-70-69–208

-5 4. Vaughn Taylor 67-70-71–208

-5 4. Scott Verplank 68-69-71–208

-5 7. J.B. Holmes 74-66-69–209

-4 7. Mark Wilson 70-70-69–209

-4 7. Luke Donald 68-71-70–209

-4 7. K.J. Choi 65-73-71–209

-4 7. Charlie Wi 70-68-71–209

-4 7. Padraig Harrington 69-69-71–209

-4 13. Steve Flesch 71-71-68–210

-3 13. Joe Durant 71-70-69–210

-3 13. Dustin Johnson 68-73-69–210

-3 13. Steve Marino 69-70-71–210

-3 13. Ryuji Imada 71-69-70–210

-3 13. Zach Johnson 72-67-71–210

-3 13. D.J. Trahan 70-74-66–210

-3 13. Bubba Watson 71-68-71–210

-3 13. Brandt Jobe 71-68-71–210

-3 13. Chad Campbell 67-70-73–210

-3 23. Angel Cabrera 68-73-70–211

-2 23. Lucas Glover 72-69-70–211

-2 23. Steve Stricker 71-69-71–211

-2 23. David Toms 71-68-72–211

-2 23. Billy Mayfair 68-69-74–211

-2 23. Robert Allenby 70-66-75–211

-2 29. Pat Perez 69-72-71–212

-1 29. Adam Scott 73-69-70–212

-1 29. Nathan Green 72-70-70–212

-1 29. Hunter Mahan 68-74-70–212

-1 29. George McNeill 72-69-71–212

-1 29. Paul Casey 73-70-69–212

-1 29. Fred Couples 70-70-72–212

-1 29. Craig Barlow 69-74-69–212

-1 29. Brad Adamonis 72-71-69–212

-1 29. Kevin Sutherland 70-69-73–212

-1 29. Tom Pernice, Jr. 72-72-68–212

-1 29. Marc Turnesa 75-70-67–212

-1 41. Tag Ridings 75-68-70–213

E 41. Alex Cejka 68-72-73–213

E 41. Jeff Overton 74-69-70–213

E 41. Rory Sabbatini 72-67-74–213

E 41. Peter Lonard 69-70-74–213

E 41. Scott McCarron 72-65-76–213

E 47. Vijay Singh 71-72-71–214
+ 1 47. Ryan Moore 72-71-71–214
+ 1 47. Bart Bryant 74-69-71–214
+ 1 47. Jason Gore 71-72-71–214
+ 1 47. Toru Taniguchi 72-71-71–214
+ 1 47. Matt Kuchar 73-71-70–214
+ 1 47. Sergio Garcia 74-71-69–214
+ 1 54. Kevin Na 66-76-73–215
+ 2 54. Charles Howell III 71-70-74–215
+ 2 54. Bill Haas 72-71-72–215
+ 2 54. Chez Reavie 73-71-71–215
+ 2 54. Fred Funk 74-70-71–215
+ 2 54. Kenny Perry 72-73-70–215
+ 2 54. Briny Baird 71-74-70–215
+ 2 54. Rocco Mediate 75-70-70–215
+ 2 62. Brian Bateman 70-70-76–216
+ 3 62. John Daly 69-74-73–216
+ 3 62. Mathew Goggin 73-71-72–216
+ 3 62. Cameron Beckman 74-70-72–216
+ 3 62. Cody Freeman 70-74-72–216
+ 3 67. Aaron Baddeley 73-70-74–217
+ 4 67. Ben Curtis 70-71-76–217
+ 4 67. Dean Wilson 71-72-74–217
+ 4 67. Ben Crane 70-74-73–217
+ 4 67. Bo Van Pelt 71-74-72–217
+ 4 67. Fredrik Jacobson 72-73-72–217
+ 4 73. Carl Pettersson 70-74-74–218
+ 5 73. Kevin Streelman 75-69-74–218
+ 5 73. Michael Allen 75-70-73–218
+ 5 76. Will MacKenzie 71-73-75–219
+ 6 76. Shigeki Maruyama 71-74-74–219
+ 6 78. Eric Axley 71-72-78–221
+ 8 • • •

Missed the cut

79. Steve Elkington 73-73–146
+ 4 79. Brandt Snedeker 76-70–146
+ 4 79. Chris DiMarco 72-74–146
+ 4 79. Geoff Ogilvy 69-77–146
+ 4 79. J.J. Henry 76-70–146
+ 4 79. Johnson Wagner 75-71–146
+ 4 79. Heath Slocum 73-73–146
+ 4 79. John Merrick 71-75–146
+ 4 87. Cliff Kresge 74-73–147
+ 5 87. Andres Romero 73-74–147
+ 5 87. Justin Rose 72-75–147
+ 5 87. Tim Clark 69-78–147
+ 5 87. Ken Duke 70-77–147
+ 5 87. Trevor Immelman 72-75–147
+ 5 87. Jeff Maggert 71-76–147
+ 5 87. Daniel Chopra 73-74–147
+ 5 87. Sean O’Hair 75-72–147
+ 5 87. Mark Hensby 74-73–147
+ 5 97. Troy Matteson 74-74–148
+ 6 97. Jason Bohn 75-73–148
+ 6 97. Tom Lehman 75-73–148
+ 6 97. Nick Watney 75-73–148
+ 6 97. Mike Weir 73-75–148
+ 6 97. Shingo Katayama 77-71–148
+ 6 97. Robert Garrigus 75-73–148
+ 6 97. Richard Johnson 73-75–148
+ 6 97. Camilo Villegas 74-74–148
+ 6 97. Nick Flanagan 74-74–148
+ 6 97. Jerry Kelly 72-76–148
+ 6 97. Brett Quigley 74-74–148
+ 6 97. Shane Bertsch 75-73–148
+ 6 97. Rod Pampling 73-75–148
+ 6 97. Charley Hoffman 77-71–148
+ 6 112. Y.E. Yang 72-77–149
+ 7 112. Tim Petrovic 73-76–149
+ 7 112. Joe Ogilvie 70-79–149
+ 7 112. Davis Love III 75-74–149
+ 7 112. Jim Furyk 76-73–149
+ 7 112. Corey Pavin 75-74–149
+ 7 112. Olin Browne 74-75–149
+ 7 119. Bob Estes 74-76–150
+ 8 119. Len Mattiace 77-73–150
+ 8 119. Anthony Kim 73-77–150
+ 8 119. Ryan Armour 75-75–150
+ 8 123. Shaun Micheel 76-75–151
+ 9 123. Brian Davis 74-77–151
+ 9 123. Brian Gay 75-76–151
+ 9 126. Charles Warren 71-81–152
+ 10 126. Lee Westwood 74-78–152
+ 10 126. Rich Beem 75-77–152
+ 10 129. Jay Williamson 75-78–153
+ 11 129. Tommy Armour III 79-74–153
+ 11 129. Drew Scott 75-78–153
+ 11 129. Todd Hamilton 77-76–153
+ 11 133. J.P. Hayes 79-75–154
+ 12 133. Billy Andrade 72-82–154
+ 12 135. Mathias Gronberg 79-76–155
+ 13 135. Robert Floyd 77-78–155
+ 13 137. Retief Goosen 79-77–156
+ 14 138. Steve Lowery 79-78–157
+ 15 WD. John Mallinger 78-WD

WD. Nicholas Thompson 75-WD

WD. Nick O’Hern WD

WD. David Duval WD

DQ. Scott Mahlberg 76-78-DQ

DQ. J.L. Lewis 79-77-DQ

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