Bubba leads as Phil loses focus

US Tour

Bubba Watson will take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Phoenix Open after carding a third-round four-under-par 68.

The 35-year-old started the day in a share of the lead with Matt Jones from Australia after shooting a 66 in the weather delayed second round, which was only completed on Saturday morning.

He continued where he left off in the third round as he made four birdies on his front nine before dropping a shot at the 10th. However, he picked up another birdie at the par-four 17th with an excellent chip despite starting with a loose tee-shot.

Watson, who is looking for his first victory since winning the Masters at Augusta in 2012, told Golf Channel he is happy that his game is finally coming together again.

“It was a struggle down the back nine but I held it together, made some key putts, made some key up-and-downs,” he said after finishing the day at 15 under. “I held it together, that’s the part I like.

“Got one more tough day but what I am seeing, building for the future, is it’s coming together pretty good.”

Five birdies in the final six holes helped Kevin Stadler to move into second, one shot ahead of Ryan Moore, Harris English and Hideki Matsuyama.

Jones dropped down the leaderboard to 11-under along with Brendan Steele and Hunter Mahan after carding a one-over-par 72.

World number four Phil Mickelson had a day to forget after the defending champion carded a one over to drop to three under for the tournament, 12 shots behind leader Watson.

Mickelson made a double bogey at the par-three 17th and then dropped another shot at the 18th, and he admitted afterwards that he “lost focus” while thinking about throwing American footballs into the crowd ahead of Super Bowl Sunday.

“It’s the last time I’m going to do that because mentally I was thinking about throwing it a couple holes prior,” the American said.

“It took me out of my element. I hit the worst shot imaginable on that 16th hole, and then I followed with four other terrible ones.”

He added: “I thought it was going to be fun, and it kind of took away my focus.”

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