Golf Roundup: Mickelson maintains lead in Desert Classic

LA QUINTA, Calif. (AP) — Phil Mickelson made three long birdie putts on the back nine Saturday to take a two-stroke lead into the final round of the Desert Classic.

Making his first start of the year, the 48-year-old Mickelson shot a bogey-free 6-under 66 on the Stadium Course at PGA West to get to 22-under 194. He topped the leaderboard for the third straight day after matching his career-low score with an opening 60 at La Quinta Country Club and shooting a 68 on Friday on PGA West’s Nicklaus Tournament Course.

The tournament winner in 2002 and 2004, Lefty rolled in a 35-foot birdie putt on the par-3 13th and added a 15-footer on the par-4 14th. After missing a 9-foot try on the par-5 16th to spoil an up-and-down bid from the deep greenside bunker, he ran in a 25-footer on the island green, par-3 17th called Alcatraz.

Canadian Adam Hadwin was second after a 65 on the Nicklaus layout.

Mickelson is making his first tour start since early October and first competitive appearance since beating Tiger Woods in Las Vegas in November in a made-for-TV event. The Hall of Famer won the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship last year for his 43rd PGA Tour title and first since the 2013 British Open.

Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Lydia Ko shot 30 on the front nine to catch the leaders and stayed bogey-free for a 5-under 66 to share the lead with Eun-Hee Ji going into the final round of the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions.

Ji also shot 66 at Tranquilo Golf Club at Four Seasons. They were at 13-under 200.

Brooke Henderson of Canada was poised to make it a three-way tie at the top until she made bogey on the par-3 closing hole for a 69, leaving her one shot behind. Nelly Korda had an eagle and four birdies for a 65. She was two shots off the lead.

The LPGA Tour season opener is limited to winners each of the last two seasons for a $1.2 million purse.

Abu Dhabi Championship

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Shane Lowry won the Abu Dhabi Championship after being taken to the final hole.

The 31-year-old Lowry claimed his fourth European Tour title with a one-shot victory over South African Richard Sterne.

Lowry had an overnight lead of three shots but that was quickly wiped out as the Irishman faltered and Sterne (69) played the first nine holes in 31.

The pair were tied on the 18th tee of the final round, but Sterne’s wayward approach to the final green saw Lowry win with a birdie for a 1-under 71. Lowry finished on 18-under 270 overall to clinch his first win since 2015 at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational.

“I completely thought I was gone to be honest,” Lowry told Sky Sports after being four shots behind Sterne with seven holes to play. “I just tried to put him under as much pressure as I could. But I didn’t think I had that in me today.”

The wire-to-wire victory for Lowry, who tied the course record with a 62 in the first round, will lift him back into the world’s top 50 and get him into golf’s showpiece events in 2019.

He is back playing on the European Tour after losing his U.S. PGA Tour card last year and slipping to No. 75 in the rankings.

Latin Amateur

LA ROMANA, Dominican Republic — Alvaro Ortiz of Mexico made birdie on the par-5 18th for a 2-under 70, giving him a one-shot lead and a third opportunity to capture the Latin American Amateur Championship.

Ortiz lost in a three-man playoff in 2017 and was runner-up last year to Joaquin Niemann.

A victory would earn the 23-year-old Mexican a spot in the Masters, along with an exemption into the final stage of qualifying for the U.S. Open and British Open.

Ortiz was at 8-under 208, one shot ahead of Luis Fernando Barco of Peru (71) and Augustin Errazuriz of Chile (69). Chilean players have won four times in the five years of the Latin American Amateur.

Juan Cayro Delgado, who had the 36-hole lead before a home crowd at Casa de Campo’s Teeth of the Dog course, had a 77 and fell six shots behind.

Ortiz now has held the lead after six rounds in his five appearances in this event.

“I think hopefully you’ll see me tomorrow lifting the trophy,” said Ortiz, whose older brother Carlos is on the PGA Tour. “That’s the plan. I’m just going to try to be patient. I’ve been here before. I know what it takes. I think last year I did a great job but Joaquin did a better job than I did. I’m going to trust my process, be patient and have the best attitude I can have.”

By Paul Wager

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