Desert Classic
Golf News & Tours

Thanks to thrilling late birdie, Phil Mickelson takes a two-shot lead into Sunday at the Desert Classic

Following a sizzling first-round 60, Phil Mickelson's focus immediately shifted to whether or not he'd be able to back up the career-low round. Facing sky-high expectations, he's done just that, carding rounds of 68 and Saturday's six-under 66 on PGA West's Stadium Course. He takes a two-shot lead over Adam Hadwin into Sunday, when he'll look to capture his 44th career PGA Tour victory.

Mickelson, 48, has had just one slip-up the entire week, a double bogey on Friday, which is no small feat considering his inaccuracy with the driver. He's bogey-free otherwise, and has scrambled in typical Mickelson fashion, ranking sixth in the field in scrambling for the week. On Saturday he made six birdies, including a 36-footer on the 17th hole's Island Green, producing a huge roar from the crowd.

But it was a chip-in birdie at the par-3 sixth from just off the green that really got Mickelson going. To that point, he had not made a birdie, losing the lead in the process. The hole out kickstarted a birdie-birdie-birdie run, and he added three more on the way in.

Hadwin fired a seven-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course, his third straight round of 66 or lower. While his record here is incredible, he still has not won the event, instead finishing T-3 in 2018, second in 2017 and T-6 in 2016.

Alone in third is 31-year-old tour rookie Adam Long, who shot a nine-under 63 at La Quinta on Saturday to get to 19-under 197, just three off Mickelson's lead. This is only Long's sixth career event on tour, and he's made just one cut.

Then there's Steve Marino, a 10-plus year tour veteran who has knocked on the door for a victory many times but has never won. He's in solo fourth at 18-under 198 following a third-round five-under 67 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Michael Thompson and Patrick Cantlay are tied for fifth at 17-under 199, while defending champion Jon Rahm is among a group tied for seventh at 16 under.

Up-to-the-minute leader board and other scoring information for the Desert Classic, PGA West, La Quinta, California, Jan. 17-20, 2019

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