Everything going Mickelson’s way

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DULUTH, Ga. – 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 had been 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 67 and an eight-stroke lead at 21-under 195.

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.

Thanks in part to the bogey on 16 and double bogey on 18 Saturday, Mickelson says he can focus on his game instead of worrying about chasing the best 72-hole total on a par-72 course in PGA Tour history – 29-under 259 by Joe Durant in the 90-hole Bob Hope Classic in 2001, matched by Tim Herron in the same tournament in 2003.

Ochoa leads Wie by 3 in first major

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Lorena Ochoa survived a day that roughed up just about everyone Saturday in the Kraft Nabisco Championship, finishing with a testy par putt for a 2-over 74 and a three-shot lead over Michelle Wie in the first major of the year.

Ochoa led by at least three shots the entire round, although she felt fortunate walking off the island of an 18th green at Mission Hills.

Wie had a 10-foot birdie putt that grazed the right edge of the cup. Ochoa, whose wedge nearly spun back into the water, holed a 5-footer for par that left the 24-year-old Mexican in control, but only barely.

“I’m happy with the finish,” said Ochoa, who was at 9-under 207. “Three shots makes a big difference.”

Wie was happy her 1-over 73 wasn’t worse.

The 16-year-old from Hawaii went from the right rough into the left rough, then into the bunker on the 13th hole, and it appeared as though she would tumble out of contention like so many others before her. But she made the bogey putt, followed with a 10-foot birdie putt on the 14th and started giving herself chances.

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Hatalsky leads Blue Agave Golf Classic

PUERTO VALLARTA, Mexico – Morris Hatalsky shot a 5-under 67 on Saturday 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.

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.

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