(Reuters) – Phil Mickelson is in the driving seat to win on his PGA Tour Champions debut after the American surged to a four-shot lead heading into the final round of the Charles Schwab Series, which he is using to prepare for next month’s U.S. Open.
Hall of Famer Mickelson has won 44 events on the regular PGA Tour, including five major championships, and qualified for the senior circuit having turned 50 in June.
Mickelson followed up his opening round of 61 with a 64 on Tuesday to go 17-under for the tournament in Ridgedale, Missouri, with Rod Pampling and Tim Petrovic trailing him going into the final round at Ozarks National.
Mickelson fired five birdies in seven holes on the front nine before a lone bogey immediately after the turn. But he recovered with three more birdies in the next four holes.
He is now in a position to break the PGA Tour Champions’ 54-hole scoring record of 191, jointly held by David Frost, Bruce Fleisher, Loren Roberts, Bernhard Langer and Rocco Mediate.
“I hit some good shots, made some good birdies, but I want to work on a couple of things,” Mickelson, who will also play in next month’s PGA Tour Safeway Open, told reporters.
“I hit a couple of drives that I hung a little bit left that I want to work on.
“If I can drive it a little bit more aggressively, I think I can make a few more birdies and be hard to catch,” added Mickelson, who has been eliminated from the PGA Tour’s FedExCup playoffs.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherfordpeter.firstname.lastname@example.org; +822 6936 1482)