Phil Mickelson still holds a share of the lead after a second straight 70 at Riviera Country Club on Saturday, but Mickelson’s erratic play on the day allowed the field to bunch up at the top. After an opening round 66 gave Mickelson the first round lead, eight players have now moved to within two shots of the lefty as he tries for his second win in as many weeks.
Furthermore, 19 players are within five strokes of the lead, and the Northern Trust Open figures to go down to the wire on Sunday. Tied at the top of the leaderboard with Mickelson at seven-under is the 2011 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year and defending PGA Champion Keegan Bradley.
Bradley came into the tournament with 50-to-1 odds to win, according to Bodog.com, but the two-time tour winner was able to put together a round of 66 on Saturday to join Mickelson at the top of Page One. The St. Johns grad has been lethal on the greens all week. Through three rounds, Bradley leads the field in putts per round, and used only 23 putts to sign a card that tied him with defending champion Aaron Baddeley and Bryce Molder for the low round on Saturday.
The final round will pit teacher against mentor on Sunday, as Mickelson and Bradley will be joined by Molder in the final pairing. Mickelson will have to keep it in the fairway on Sunday if he hopes to fend off final round surges from guys like Bradley, Molder, Baddeley, and Dustin Johnson, who sits at five-under after a 67 on Saturday.
Keegan Bradley has had similar struggles with the driver this week, having only found 52% of the fairways. However, if Bradley can continue to roll it the way he will be tough to beat regardless of whether or not he can find the short grass off the tee.
However, both leaders will likely have to go low on Sunday considering the fire power nestled behind them on the leaderboard, which should make for an exciting day of golf. TV coverage of the final round at the Northern Trust Open begins on Golf Channel tomorrow from 12:00-1:30 p.m. and continues on CBS at 2 p.m. Bradley, Mickelson and Molder will tee off at 10:25 a.m. local time (1:25 p.m. ET.)