Phil Mickelson put up another red number and shot down another record, with the weapon of choice this time a silencer.
The Arizona State senior shot a quiet 3-under-par 69 Friday and loosened only slightly his hammerlock on the individual lead at the 95th NCAA golf championships.For the record, Mickelson is now 19-under-par (197) through 54 holes and has a nine-shot lead over Arizona's Harry Rudolph, his rival since the two were junior golfers in the San Diego area.
Meanwhile, the only local golfer left in the tournament, BYU's Mike Weir, shot a 72 Friday to put him at 214, in a tie for 11th place individually. The BYU senior is hoping a high finish could earn him All-America honors.
With 18 holes left, Arizona leads the team standings with a score of 844. ASU is next at 850, with Nevada-Las Vegas in third at 860. Defending champion Oklahoma State and Stanford are tied for fourth at 862.
Arizona's Rudolph, playing in the same threesome with Mickelson, had eight birdies and two bogeys in a round of 66. But the quiet, bespeckled Rudolph conceded Mickelson had too much daylight on the field for any last round turnarounds.
"He shoots 69 today and probably feels like he shot 80," Rudolph said. "I'd have to shoot something like 52 (tomorrow)."
For the third straight day, Mickelson got into the record book. His 54-hole total of 19-under is seven shots better than the 12-under posted by John Inman of North Carolina in 1984. It's also already under the 72-hole record of 17-under by Inman the same year.
Mickelson opened the 72-hole tournament with a record-tying 63 and with a nine-shot cushion was in cruise control throughout the third round. Twice he jokingly told the teen-ager carrying the players' scoreboard to get ready to post a lower red number.
"I used it to try to get myself rolling," said Mickelson, whose round was a no-frills, three-birdies, no-bogeys snoozer.
Rudolph said the adrenalin for his round came from playing with Mickelson and seeing the disparity of his 4-under score compared with Mickelson's 16-under when the round started.
"I wanted to get the red number (under par) in double digits so it wouldn't look so funny," he said.
While the individual title is in Mickelson's bag, Rudolph and teammate Manny Zerman have carried Arizona to the top of the leader board in the team title chase.
Zerman, the low amateur at the Masters this year and the runner-up at the U.S. Amateur the last two years, was just a shot behind Rudolph with a 5-under 67 on Thursday. At one point, Zerman birdied five straight holes from No. 7 through No. 11 and is third behind Mickelson and Rudolph with a 54-hole score of 7-under 209.
The other Wildcats also smoked the 7,246-yard Championship Course. Rob McIver shot 70 and David Berganio and Jim Furyk 71'sas Arizona erased the 6-shot lead Arizona State had built on Mickelson's first two rounds of 63 and 65.
Mickelson said he would use the team competition for final-round motivation.
"One thing that will push me is the fact we're six shots down. I may just use the team thing as a pusher."
Arizona shot a team score of 14-under 274 to take over the team lead.