Work remains for Lefty at Doral

• Mickelson treated for dehydration after third round
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Associated Press

DORAL, Fla. – Phil Mickelson learned a little about Nick Watney during his trips to Las Vegas in the offseason while working with Butch Harmon, the swing coach for both of them.

He got to know Watney a lot better Saturday in the CA Championship and was even more impressed.

Watney overcame a two-shot deficit with three straight birdies early in the third round and had three strong par saves on the back nine for a 5-under 67. Mickelson answered with three straight birdies late in the afternoon during a splendid display of driving and irons and shot 69. They wound up tied for the lead at Doral.

Even though Mickelson longed for another duel with Tiger Woods, he realizes he still has his hands full with Watney.

“There’s really not any weaknesses in his game,” Mickelson said. “He’s already won this year and played tough down the stretch in that win, and he’s a tough competitor.”

They were at 16-under 200, four shots clear of anyone else.

Watney, who birdied two his last three holes to win at Torrey Pines last month, ended his streak of bogey-free golf on the Blue Monster after 46 holes and still has made only one in the tournament.

“I just wanted to go out there today and really get into my round and not worry too much about the scoreboard or playing against Phil directly,” Watney said. “So I’m pleased with the way I handled it.”

Watney has not played in a final group before so many fans, but he has seen what it is like. He was a rookie in 2005 when Doral resembled a rock concert with Woods and Mickelson in the last group, and Woods rallying to win.

“I would love to have that opportunity,” Watney said. “Maybe I’ll get that shot tomorrow.”

Woods won’t be part of the equation.

In his first stroke-play event since winning the U.S. Open in June a week before knee surgery, Woods was thrilled with how he hit the ball, disgusted with how he putted. He managed only a 68 and was nine shots behind.

“The best I’ve hit it in a long time,” Woods said. “Granted, I haven’t played in a long time, but still.”

Mickelson, the best player to have never won a World Golf Championship, is not ready to consider Sunday another duel at Doral. Jeev Milkha Singh (68) and Camilo Villegas (69) were at 12-under 204, while the group another shot behind included former Doral winner Jim Furyk (69), Kenny Perry (71) and Alvaro Quiros (69), a big hitter from Spain.

“Nick and I need to play well to separate ourselves from the rest of the field,” Mickelson said.

Lefty worried he might fall behind when he made the turn in only 35 on another good day for scoring. But he hit his stride, going eight consecutive holes with birdie putts inside 12 feet. He converted only three of them.

The easiest came at the par-3 13th, when Mickelson hit 5-iron to the green and watched it roll toward the cup. The glare kept him from seeing the ball bounce lightly off the middle of the pin and stop a foot away, but the wild cheer filled him in.

“I thought after the first bounce it was going to be pretty good,” he said.

Watney made a terrific par save from an awkward stance in the bunker on the the 13th, and he made another solid bunker save on the par-3 15th when Mickelson hit his tee shot to 6 feet. It looked as though Lefty would go three shots ahead until he missed the putt, and Watney caught him two holes later – his birdie on the 16th, Mickelson’s one wild drive on the 17th leading to bogey.

Watney finished with another solid par save after an approach flirted with the water on the 18th. From deep rough, he popped it out to 3 feet and stayed tied for the lead when Mickelson missed a 15-foot birdie.

Rory McIlroy, the 19-year-old from Northern Ireland who is down to his last week with a chance at becoming the youngest winner in PGA Tour history, was in the mix until struggling from the rough and making three bogeys over his last five holes.

He was at 10-under 206, six shots behind.

“It looks like it’s going to be a bit of a two-horse race,” McIlroy said. “But if I can go out and shoot in the mid-60s and get myself as high up the leaderboard as possible, then it will have been another good week.”

Woods feels he’s making progress, too.

It was his best round since his return to competition, at least until he got on the green. He missed three putts inside 10 feet, and his final birdie came on the 16th when he holed out from a back bunker.

But it was the finish that lifted his mood.

From the edge of the water, with the ball above his feet and the wind in his face, Woods hit a sweeping draw with a 3-iron from 207 yards away that caught the ridge and rolled just past the cup, settling 12 feet away.

He missed the birdie putt.

“I have not controlled the golf ball that well in a very long time,” Woods said. “And that was fun. I was hitting shots that I had not been able to hit before, which was such a great feeling. Unfortunately, I’m just not making any putts.”

Mickelson, who won two weeks ago at Riviera, can close in on No. 1 in the world ranking by capturing his first World Golf Championship title. It will be his first time in the final group at Doral since 2005, when Woods overcame a two-shot deficit to beat him.

Woods, in a tie for 19th, is out of the picture.

But the way Saturday went along the back nine, Mickelson still doesn’t expect anything to come easily.

Scores with relation to par from the third round of the WGC-CAChampionship, played March 14 at the par-72 7,226-yard Blue Course atDoral (Fla.) Resort & Spa:

1. Phil Mickelson 65-66-69–200

-16 1. Nick Watney 66-67-67–200

-16 3. Jeev M. Singh 65-71-68–204

-12 3. Camilo Villegas 67-68-69–204

-12 5. Charley Hoffman 68-70-67–205

-11 5. Soren Kjeldsen 70-66-69–205

-11 5. Jim Furyk 68-68-69–205

-11 5. Alvaro Quiros 72-64-69–205

-11 5. Kenny Perry 70-64-71–205

-11 10. Justin Leonard 69-69-68–206

-10 10. Rod Pampling 66-69-71–206

-10 10. Rory McIlroy 68-66-72–206

-10 13. Soren Hansen 74-69-64–207

-9 13. James Kingston 66-74-67–207

-9 13. Luke Donald 69-70-68–207

-9 13. Dustin Johnson 70-66-71–207

-9 13. Prayad Marksaeng 65-70-72–207

-9 18. Padraig Harrington 66-71-71–208

-8 19. Tiger Woods 71-70-68–209

-7 19. Ernie Els 70-71-68–209

-7 19. Steve Stricker 69-70-70–209

-7 19. Briny Baird 70-68-71–209

-7 19. Oliver Wilson 67-70-72–209

-7 19. Paul Casey 71-66-72–209

-7 19. Louis Oosthuizen 67-69-73–209

-7 19. Ian Poulter 69-67-73–209

-7 27. Ryuji Imada 70-71-69–210

-6 27. Mike Weir 71-69-70–210

-6 27. Pat Perez 70-68-72–210

-6 30. Stuart Appleby 71-71-69–211

-5 30. Justin Rose 73-70-68–211

-5 30. Tim Clark 71-71-69–211

-5 30. Davis Love III 70-71-70–211

-5 30. Martin Kaymer 73-68-70–211

-5 30. Ben Curtis 71-69-71–211

-5 30. Thomas Aiken 74-66-71–211

-5 30. Sean O'Hair 67-70-74–211

-5 38. Mark Brown 73-71-68–212

-4 38. Sergio Garcia 72-72-68–212

-4 38. Carl Pettersson 74-69-69–212

-4 38. Geoff Ogilvy 73-69-70–212

-4 38. Chad Campbell 72-70-70–212

-4 38. Vijay Singh 69-72-71–212

-4 38. Ross Fisher 71-69-72–212

-4 38. Garth Mulroy 70-70-72–212

-4 38. Anthony Kim 71-69-72–212

-4 38. Robert Allenby 69-71-72–212

-4 38. Shingo Katayama 70-70-72–212

-4 49. Ken Duke 71-75-67–213

-3 49. Hunter Mahan 71-74-68–213

-3 49. Richard Finch 72-72-69–213

-3 49. Stephen Ames 72-70-71–213

-3 49. Robert Karlsson 71-70-72–213

-3 54. D.J. Trahan 77-71-66–214

-2 54. Zach Johnson 70-72-72–214

-2 54. Retief Goosen 65-76-73–214

-2 57. Stewart Cink 73-73-69–215

-1 57. Wen-Tang Lin 75-70-70–215

-1 57. Henrik Stenson 69-73-73–215

-1 57. Andres Romero 67-71-77–215

-1 61. Darren Clarke 74-71-71–216

E 61. Peter Hanson 70-74-72–216

E 61. Y.E. Yang 73-70-73–216

E 64. Graeme McDowell 73-74-70–217
+ 1 64. Bubba Watson 72-71-74–217
+ 1 64. Rory Sabbatini 69-74-74–217
+ 1 64. Miguel A. Jimenez 69-72-76–217
+ 1 68. Kevin Sutherland 74-76-68–218
+ 2 68. John Rollins 76-71-71–218
+ 2 68. K.J. Choi 73-73-72–218
+ 2 68. Richard Sterne 70-76-72–218
+ 2 72. Adam Scott 71-76-72–219
+ 3 72. Dudley Hart 71-75-73–219
+ 3 72. Boo Weekley 69-75-75–219
+ 3 75. Lee Westwood 71-71-78–220
+ 4 76. Trevor Immelman 74-76-72–222
+ 6 76. Pablo Larrazabal 76-71-75–222
+ 6 76. Billy Mayfair 75-72-75–222
+ 6 79. Azuma Yano 77-71-76–224
+ 8 DQ. Aaron Baddeley 69-75-DQ

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