Nissan field tightens up

first_img“This definitely shines a ray of hope on a lot of guys’ eyes, as well as (Mickelson) was playing,” said Jim Furyk, tied for sixth, four shots back. Mickelson and Harrington know things could’ve been much different, that today’s final round could have resembled a match-play competition. But if either wins, it will be a moot point. “It would’ve been nice to get a few birdies and take a few guys out, but we let the field back in,” Harrington said. It didn’t look like it would be that way at the start, as Mickelson picked up where he left off, sinking birdies on the first two holes to take a two-shot lead over Harrington. On the second hole, he hit a superb approach shot that curled around trees and landed within four feet of the hole, leading to an easy putt. But Mickelson didn’t birdie again until the 10th hole. He had several errant drives and iron shots that led to three consecutive bogeys on Nos. 11, 12 and 13. “I was tied for the lead yesterday. I’ve got a one-shot lead today. So, it’s getting better,” Mickelson said. “It wasn’t the day I wanted, but it’s getting better.” Mickelson’s most glaring error was on the par-3 16th hole, where he hit his tee shot right and over the green, then hit a wedge over the hole on the other side, about 40 feet by the cup. He then made a two-foot bogey putt. “Awful swing on 16,” he said. “I didn’t even try to make par there.” Mickelson fell into a tie for the lead after that gaffe but birdied the par-5 17th hole. He was on in two and two-putted from 40 feet. “I had a great day striking it,” Mickelson said. “I felt like this was going to be a good day. Somewhere along the line, iron shots just weren’t quite coming off. I missed a couple of fairways early on with 3-woods, and I was 4 under through 11, but the longest putt I had made was three or four feet. I didn’t make anything outside of that. And so I’ve got to get a little bit hotter with the putter. I’ve got to give myself more changes. I just kind of hung in there.” Harrington was scrambling as well. He was in the gulley on the eighth and hit a tremendous shot to within seven feet and the ball stayed on the edge of the cup. He tapped in for par. This is the first time Harrington has played the tournament and the first for Mickelson in five years. Harrington played Riviera once in December, and his inexperience with the course showed on the sixth hole, where he was well off the green. “I chipped it well by the hole and missed the putt,” Harrington said. “Seemingly, I could have chipped it up the side of the green and it would have come back down. I didn’t happen to notice that. My playing partner (Mickelson) told me that as I was going up the next hole.” Mickelson, who won the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am last week, appears to be the golfer to beat today. But Mickelson and Harrington are anything but guarantees to win the tournament. “There were a lot of low scores,” Mickelson said. “If Padraig and I had both shot low scores, we probably could’ve pulled away a little bit. Instead, it will be a shootout (today) with a lot of guys.” [email protected] (818) 713-3615 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Phil Mickelson and Padraig Harrington had an opportunity to distance themselves from the field on Saturday, but that didn’t happen. Ten players are within five shots of one another, meaning the Nissan Open could come down to the 72nd hole, as it usually does. Mickelson and Harrington each shot their highest scores of the tournament – 69 and 70, respectively – and Mickelson has a one shot lead over Harrington at 13-under. Rich Beem, who aced the 14th hole and won a Nissan sports car, is two shots back at 11 under. center_img • Photo Gallery: Nissan Open PACIFIC PALISADES – The PGA Tour is a one-man show, but without Tiger Woods, the Nissan Open became a two-man show. last_img read more