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Mickelson was safely on the green at No. 9 when Watney pulled his tee shot over the green and down a ramp between the television toward and the grandstand. With nearly a dozen practice swings for a delicate shot, he flopped it up the slope, onto the green and charged up the hill when it dropped for birdie.
Just like that, he was only one shot behind. And with two beautiful swings on the par-5 10th, he had an 8-foot eagle putt. Walking toward the green, Watney rolled his shoulders and pushed his palms toward the ground, reminded himself to stay calm.
He holed the eagle putt and was tied for the lead, but that was as sharp as he got.
Making a bogey from the bunker on the 11th was one thing, but he let Mickelson off the hook on the par-5 12th.
Lefty went well to the right and into the bushes, although he could see enough of the ball to consider swinging from the other side. He inverted a wedge for his right-handed shot, but it struck a tree and stayed in the rough. Mickelson took four shots to reach the green and made bogey.
Watney only had a 4-iron to the green and made bogey. He caught another nasty lie in the bunker, and this time caught it fat and left it in the bunker, eventually missing a 6-footer for par.
"I feel like I gave away two shots there," Watney said. "Having 4-iron to the green and making 6 there was pretty disappointing. I guess that's going to happen over 72 holes. Just try to work hard and come back better next time."
Mickelson is looking better than ever.
He won at Riviera three week ago, and his victory at Doral made it six straight seasons of winning multiple times, the longest active streak on the PGA Tour. He now has 36 victories to tie for 12th with Lloyd Mangrum on the career list.
And while he still hasn't reached the top of the ranking, Mickelson is more concerned with peaking for the Masters a month away.
"I cannot wait for that tournament to come," Mickelson said.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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