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Mickelson takes control in FBR



Published: Sat, February 5, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Masters champ leads tournament by four strokes over 21-year-old Kevin Na.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Cheered on by tens of thousands who consider him their hometown hero, Phil Mickelson forged a four-shot lead over Kevin Na through three rounds of the FBR Open, a giant party that happens to have a golf tournament going through it.

Mickelson, who tied the course record with a 60 on Friday, shot a 5-under 66 -- with birdies on the final two holes -- on Saturday for a 14-under 199 total on the Tournament Players Club course. Na, at 21 the youngest player on the PGA Tour, had a 70.

Four were tied at 9 under -- K.J. Choi, Harrison Frazar, Kenny Perry and Steve Flesch. Mark Calcavecchia and David Toms were 8 under. Toms got to 10 under but hit his tee shot into the water on the 14th for a double bogey.

The FBR event -- formerly the Phoenix Open -- draws the biggest crowd of any PGA tournament. An estimated 165,000 people came on a perfect, sun-baked Saturday -- a single-day record for a tournament that draws about a half-million.

Champions Skins Game

WAILEA, Hawaii -- Jack Nicklaus returned from a long layoff following back surgery to take the Champions Skins Game, winning 11 straight skins and a career-high $340,000 in a runaway victory over Craig Stadler.

Nicklaus, who turned 65 last month and hadn't played a competitive round of golf for months, rode on the back of a cart for much of the round because of a strained hamstring. He had back surgery on Nov. 23.

Stadler, the 2004 Champions Tour player of the year, was second with five skins and $180,000 in his Skins Game debut. Defending champion Tom Watson earned $80,000 for his two late skins, and Arnold Palmer was blanked for the third time in four years.

Nicklaus, also the 1991 winner, sealed the victory in the made-for-TV tournament by holing a 14-foot birdie putt -- his third straight birdie -- for $40,000 on the 548-yard No. 15th. On the previous hole, Nicklaus hit a spectacular 6-iron to set up a 4-foot birdie putt for five skins and $170,000.

Heineken Classic

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Australia's Nick O'Hern shot an 8-under 63 to take the third-round lead in the Heineken Classic, while South African star Ernie Els stayed in contention for a fourth straight title at Royal Melbourne.

O'Hern finished at 14-under 199 to take a one-stroke lead over fellow Australians Jarrod Lyle (66) and Craig Parry (65). Els, who had a 66 after starting his round with a birdie and an eagle, was three shots back along with Australia's Brett Rumford (66).

Scotland's Colin Montgomerie, coming off a second-place tie last week in Singapore, shot a 72 to drop six strokes back.




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