Tuning up for his Masters defense, Phil Mickelson shot a 7-under-par 65 yesterday to move within a stroke of leader Scott McCarron with one round to play in the rain-delayed BellSouth Classic.
McCarron, the 1997 and 2001 winner at TPC at Sugarloaf, shot his second straight 69 for a 6-under 138 total on the Greg Norman-designed course in Duluth, Ga.
Phil Mickelson watches his tee shot on the eighth hole during the second round of the BellSouth Classic on Sunday.
(John Bazemore - AP)
_____On the Next Tee_____PGA TOUR
Event: The Masters.
Course: Augusta National (7,290 yards, par 72), Augusta, Ga.
Purse: $6 million ($1,170,000 to winner).
TV: USA (Thursday-Friday, 4-7 p.m., 8-11 p.m.); CBS (Saturday, 3:30-7 p.m.; Sunday, 2:30-7 p.m.).
Defending Champion: Phil Mickelson.
European PGA: Madeira Island Open, Santo de Serra, Madeira, Portugal.
Mickelson, the No. 4 player in the world and the PGA Tour's leading money-winner, had the best round of the tournament as conditions improved with sun, temperatures in the low 60s and wind of 15 to 20 mph. He holed a 26-yard pitch for eagle on the 310-yard, par-4 13th, and had six birdies and a bogey in the round.
Mickelson opened the day tied for 61st after a 74 on Saturday in the opening round that was plagued by rain, sleet, snow and 40 mph wind. Rain washed out play on Thursday and Friday, forcing tour officials to shorten the tournament to 54 holes and push the finish back to today.
"I knew I needed to do something. I was fortunate to be able to do it and at least have a chance going into tomorrow," said Mickelson, a two-time winner this year.
Jose Maria Olazabal (69) and first-round co-leader Billy Mayfair (69) matched Mickelson at 5 under, and Arron Oberholser (68), Tag Ridings (68), Brian Bateman (68), Joey Snyder III (69) and Rich Beem (70) were 4 under.
Two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen (69) was 3 under in a group that included defending champion Zach Johnson (66).
Mickelson is one of the 19 players remaining in the field who will play in the Masters, beginning Thursday at Augusta National. Six others withdrew, including Stuart Appleby and Chris DiMarco, without ever hitting a shot.
It was never a thought by Mickelson.
"I enjoy being able to play a competitive round closer to the start of the Masters," Mickelson said. "I love playing the week before a major and I love how this tournament has set up the course as close to Augusta as possible.
"When you don't have a chance to practice for a couple of days, I understand why some guys pulled out. It's individual preference."
EUROPEAN TOUR: In Cascais, Portugal, Paul Broadhurst won the Portugal Open by one stroke for his first tour victory in 10 years.
The 39-year-old from England had seven birdies and three bogeys in a final-round 67 to finish 13 under at the par-71 Oitavos course near Lisbon.
Broadhurst last picked up a tour trophy at the 1995 French Open.
Overnight leader Paul Lawrie of Scotland, the 1999 British Open champion, had five birdies but took seven shots at the par-4 17th and finished second.
Portugal's Jose Filipe Lima had three birdies in his final round and was third at 11 under.