Date: July 15, 2007

Mickelson retains lead

Helped by one of the more outrageous birdies of his career – and there have been an awful lot of them – Phil Mickelson is on course for the perfect pre-Open pick-me-up. Having injured his left wrist practicing for last month&aposs US Open and missing the halfway cut both at Oakmont and at Congressional last week, Mickelson leads the Barclays Scottish Open by one from world number 320 Gregory Havret with 18 holes to go at Loch Lomond. If he goes on to lift the trophy, Mickelson will be able to head to Carnoustie having achieved his first solo victory in Europe since he was a rookie professional back in 1993. “That would mean a lot to me, as it would to win in Scotland, the home of golf,” said the 37-year-old American. The European tournament he won was the Tournoi Perrier event at the EuroDisney resort near Paris, not even a full European Tour event, but the Scottish Open is definitely not Mickey Mouse. Six more of the world&aposs top 20 have been taking part this week. Not one of them is among Mickelson&aposs nearest challengers after he shot a third round 68 in windy conditions to move onto the 12 under par total of 201. It was a tough day at the office for the Aussie contingent with Matthew Millar the best of the bunch, carding a 73 to sink to one over the card with 18 holes to play, a whopping 13 shots behind Mickelson. Peter O&aposMalley is a shot further back on two over after a disappointing 75, while Wade Ormsby had a horror round carding a third-round 78. In third place is England&aposs Steve Webster, whose world ranking has slumped to 469th since he had his one Tour win in the Italian Open two years ago. Coincidentally, Havret&aposs solitary victory was also in Italy six years ago. The pair in joint fourth are hardly superstars either. South African Louis Oosthuizen, who shot 64 after surviving the cut with nothing to spare, is ranked 129th and England&aposs Phillip Archer 173rd. Highlight of the day for Mickelson undoubtedly came on the 518-yard third. Mickelson, poised to go back into the world number two spot when the weekly rankings are issued on Monday, resumed one behind France&aposs Gregory Havret and Spaniard Jose Manuel Lara and that gap looked set to grow when he hit his approach into the edge of the pond right of the green. But on arriving at the spot Mickelson saw a chance to splash the ball out, so put his waterproofs on and without any undue delay – he did not fancy the idea of sinking without trace – swung and was delighted to see the ball finish within 10 feet of the flag. Holing the putt for a birdie four was purely a bonus, but it helped set the tone for the remainder of the round. Results from round three of the Barclays Scottish Open, Scotland: -12: Phil Mickelson 65 68 68 -11: Gregory Havret 68 64 70 -9: Steve Webster 68 67 69 -8: Phillip Archer 68 68 69, Louis Oosthuizen 70 71 64 -7: Ernie Els 69 66 71, Mikko Ilonen 66 70 70, Jose Manuel Lara 67 65 74 -6: Alejandro Canizares 72 67 68, Pelle Edberg 67 68 72, Ross Fisher 69 69 69, Sergio Garcia 71 65 71, Ian Poulter 69 67 71 -5: Oliver Fisher 70 71 67, Peter Hanson 72 67 69, Graeme McDowell 70 71 67, Shaun Micheel 67 71 70, Miles Tunnicliff 68 67 73, Boo Weekley 68 66 74 also: +1: Matthew Millar (Australia) 72 69 73 +2: Peter O Malley (Australia) 70 70 75 +5: Wade Ormsby (Australia) 70 70 78