Mickelson has 4-shot lead after 54 holes

Feb. 21, 2009 at 7:24 PM

PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif., Feb. 21 (UPI) -- Defending champion Phil Mickelson had four straight birdies Saturday to take a four-shot lead after three rounds of the Northern Trust Open in California.

Mickelson fired a 9-under 62 Saturday to finish three rounds at 16-under 197, one stroke off the 54-hole tournament scoring record.

Andres Romero birdied the final three holes to move into second place at 12-under 201 after a third-round 65.

Second-round leader Scott McCarron had a 1-under 70 Saturday that dropped him into a tie for third place at 11-under 202. He was joined in third by Rory Sabbatini (67), K.J. Choi (67) and U.S. Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples (65).

"The more opportunities that I get in contention, the better off I am," Mickelson said following Saturday's round. "I haven't been in contention the first three weeks and it has been frustrating. Now that I have a good chance going into the final round, it's fun."

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