Mickelson charges to the front

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Phil Mickelson, after a quiet season by his own high standards, has suddenly emerged as a red-hot threat to Darren Clarke.

Phil Mickelson, who has had a quiet season by his own high standards, has suddenly emerged as a red-hot threat to Darren Clarke’s hope of winning his first major at the 140th Open Championship.

The left-hander from California, who vowed to let himself enjoy this week’s battle of Royal St George’s, regardless of how he finished, has come out in Sunday’s final round like a smiling assassin and after just seven holes had moved from his level-par status at the start of the round into a share of the lead with Darren Clarke at five under.

And this after a blistering run which brought him birdies at the 2nd 4th and 6th holes and a spectacular eagle on the seventh.

Clarke, in the meantime, had quickly moved from his overnight five-under total to 6-under with a birdie at the 2nd, but had just as quickly dropped back to 5-under with a bogey at the tough par four with its intimidating giant fairway bunker.

His playing partner Dustin Johnson, who had started at 4-under and just one shot back, had not fared well.

Bogies at the 3rd and 6th had dropped him back to 2-under and into joint third place with Thomas Bjorn and American young gun Rickie Fowler.

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