Mickelson Cruising Along in the Big Easy


Ridiculously low scoring is quickly becoming the rule rather than the exception these days on the PGA Tour, and Saturday at the Compaq Classic of New Orleans followed suit with this theory just fine.
Phil Mickelson may be happy to say that he is following the rules better than everyone this week.
Mickelson followed up two consecutive rounds of 66 at English Turn Golf & Country Club with a Saturday showing of 64, and at 20-under-par 196, is threatening to run away with the tournament.
Mickelson leads by three shots over Harrison Frazar (66) and by a full five strokes over Ernie Els (65) in third place.
David Toms (63) and co-leader through two rounds Brian Gay (70) are six back at minus-14, while youngster Charles Howell poured in a 63 of his own to finish at 13-under.
Just how many super rounds of golf were there Saturday at English Turn? A bunch. Three players shot 63, two shot 64 and five went around in 65. Nine others carded scores of 66. Players were commenting that 69 was playing the equivalent to an even-par round.
Said Frazar, who was just a stroke off the pace following the second round: I didnt expect to look at the leaderboard before I teed off and drop back to fifth or sixth place.
Yet he had. And so too had Mickelson.
It didnt take the lefthander long to get back in front, however. Mickelson birdied the par-3 3rd and then rattled off five red numbers in a row from the 7th through the 11th. Three more birdies at Nos. 13, 15 and 17, and it appeared that Mickelson might also join the 63 Club on Saturday.
Yet a bogey at the closing par-4 18th gave the field a shot back and Mickelson a 64. Nevertheless, he appears to be right where he wants.
Winning would mean a lot to me, he commented following his round. Ive had a number of opportunities this year where Ive come up just short ' seconds and thirds.
Ive had a lot of opportunities to win and only one win to show for it. So I certainly feel this would be a very important win for me. It would be a big confidence booster for me if I was able to withstand the challenge and come out on top.
Mickelsons latest close-call came several weeks ago at Augusta National, when playing in the last group with Tiger Woods, he couldnt quite muster the late birdies he needed to win. He would ultimately finish three strokes behind Woods, and proceed to take the next three weeks off from tournament golf.
It seems the rest has done him good. Yet Mickelson does not seem to be quite satisfied with his game just yet.
I just feel Im not able to get as aggressive as I would like. I know Ive made a bunch of birdies, but Ive wanted to make sure Ive managed it okay. I dont feel like its firing on all cylinders right now, but as the week has progressed, Ive started to strike it much better.
And if it continues to get better? Better ask Frazar what to do next.
Hit fairways, hit it close and make some putts, he said. Its a pretty simple recipe.
Full-field scores from the Compaq Classic of New Orleans