Phil Mickelson treats the fans in Abu Dhabi as Rory McIlroy pays a penalty
Last Updated: 18/01/14 3:28pm
Phil Mickelson: From 59th to top in 18 holes
Ewen Murray believes the fans who turned up early were treated to superb value for money by a rampaging Phil Mickelson on day three of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
The Open champion piled the pressure on the leaders with a stunning, nine-under 63 that earned him a place in Sunday's final group.
Mickelson is two behind leader Craig Lee, while Rory McIlroy is three back after being hit with a two-shot penalty for an illegal drop at the second.
Ewen was also impressed with the emergence of Tyrrell Hatton as he reflected on another "magical" day's golf in the Arabian desert.
"Having scraped into the weekend by a shot, it was the evergreen Phil Mickelson who was first to ascend the leaderboard," Ewen told Sky Sports News. "Having missed 15 fairways and 13 greens over the first two days, Phil reeled off five birdies and an eagle to turn in 31.
"With three birdies in the first four holes of the back nine, amazingly the American had progressed from 59th overnight into a share of the lead. Two birdies in the last five would equal the Henrik Stenson's course-record 62.
"The charge was halted by a bogey at the difficult 14th and the momentum seemed lost, but in typical Mickelson style, he hit back with a two at 15 and finished with a birdie at 18 from the desert.
"His round of 63 propelled him to the top on his own. Mickelson gave superb value to the fans who turned up early, and he also asked some stern questions of the leaders
"Moving day was in full flow.
"You got the impression the leaders were thinking Mickelson had played on a different course. Birdies were difficult to come by, but Rory found one at the third and then the seventh to close within a shot.
"Despite missing the fairway at the long eighth, another birdie arrived and Mickelson had company at the top. But not for long. Craig Lee birdied six and seven to edge clear and only four shots separated the top 10.
"One player who has caught the eye was 22-year-old Tyrrell Hatton. Having come through the Challenge Tour and playing in only his 11th main Tour event, Tyrrell showed a maturity beyond his years and more than kept pace with the big names.
"Four birdies in 11 holes had him in the top five, but mistakes at 14 and 16 sent him back towards the pack. Nevertheless, he will get a taste of the final round pressure on Sunday, and it will be good experience for him. I wish him well. One way or another, he will learn much about himself during that last 18 holes.
"With the last group going through the turn, we had a four way tie at the top. Gaganjeet Bhullar went six under for the day with a two at 15 to join Rory, Phil and Lee, who bogeyed nine.
"With nine to go, 13 players were within three of the lead, who would take the back nine by the scruff of the neck? The answer was Craig Lee.
"There was a blip when he mis-clubbed at 16, but the Scotsman hit back immediately with an impressive birdie at 17. A par at the last gave him a lead to take into Sunday, but the drama didn't stop there.
"After play, chief referee John Paramor was called to the Sky Television scanner to review a drop Rory McIlroy took at the second hole. It was deemed incorrect. Thankfully, Rory was alerted to this on completion of play, before he signed for a third round 68. Two penalty shots ensued and he dropped from 11 under to nine.
"A sad way to end another magical days golf. It is amazing how often these rules infringements occur. Instead of being in the last group on Sunday, Rory will be in the penultimate match.
"There was even more drama to come when the weather people issued a warning of a late afternoon storm on Sunday, so the officials have declared an early start in three balls off two tees.
"That means Sky Sports change their tee off time to 6am to accommodate that. I wonder what on earth will happen on Sunday? Another outstanding day from Abu Dhabi, join us on Sky Sports 4 at 6am for the conclusion of a fabulous week's golf."