Mickelson holds commanding lead in Pebble Beach

Phil Mickelson is making a mockery of the $5.3m (€4.1m) AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

Phil Mickelson is making a mockery of the $5.3m (€4.1m) AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

Mickelson continued his torrid play of late with another strong round, carding a five-under-par 67 on Saturday to open a seemingly insurmountable seven-stroke advantage through 54 holes.

Darren Clarke is tied in eighth place at -10, 10 strokes behind Mickelson. Graeme McDowell is a further shot behind, while Pail McGinley is on -6.

The 34-year-old Mickelson is on the verge of his 25th career victory, second here and second in two weeks. Coming off his impressive performance at the FBR Open, Mickelson has scorched the three courses that make up this tournament.

After recording just one bogey en route to a record 36-hole total of 15-under 129, Mickelson had six birdies and a bogey at the Pebble Hills course on Saturday. He capped his round with a great approach shot at the 18th, rolling home a three-footer for birdie.

His 54-hole total of 20-under 196 has come during a stretch in which he has just five bogeys over his last 108 holes.

“It has been a lot of fun so far,” Mickelson said.

“I love being in the position I am in. I’ve been playing well and I don’t want to look at (Sunday) as any different.”

When pressed by the media, Mickelson admitted to playing with a lot of confidence.

“I think the shots that I didn’t feel comfortable hitting in the past, I feel very confident with now,” he added.

“I also am getting my distance back. Those shots I feel more comfortable with as well.”

Relatively unknown Greg Owen of England is second at 203. Owen, who turns 32 on February 19, has never finished higher than 23rd in a PGA Tour event.

“I’ve been playing well, keeping it in the fairways and taking it from there,” said Owen, who has carded three rounds in the 60s.

Owen tried to explain his relative anonymity.

“I have been on the European tour for seven years and I won the British Masters. Then I was lucky enough to get injured last year and had a back operation,” he joked.

“I needed a change of scenery, a change of luck (so I headed to America).”

Owen, who has three career international victories, had three birdies and an eagle on number 18 during a bogey-free round on Saturday. He was 23rd at the 2001 British Open but has not been better than 56th in any event this year.

Vijay Singh, the world’s top-ranked player and the defending champion here, missed the cut at three-over 219. He had made the cut in 28 straight events.

The tournament is being played on three courses – Spyglass Hill, Pebble Beach Golf Links and Poppy Hills, all par-72s. Pebble Beach will host the final round.

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