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Despite slow start, Mickelson still atop leaderboard at Colonial

Phil Mickelson didn’t get off to a blistering start and never made a run at the course record like some of his competitors.

But at the end of the round, they’re all looking up at the world's second-ranked player atop the leaderboard.

Mickelson birdied six of the final 10 holes to finish with a 5-under 65 on Saturday in the third round of the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial and heads into the final round with a one-shot lead over Rod Pampling and Stephen Ames.

Mickelson started the day where he finished, alone in first place.

But he but bogeyed the second hole and was even for his round through eight holes.

Then he made five birdies during a stretch of holes starting with No. 9 and ending with No. 15, with a bogey mixed in at No. 12 to pull even with Pampling and Ames at 11-under. He took the lead with the final putt of the third round, draining a 17-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole.

At one point, Pampling was making a run at the course record in his third round on Saturday. The Flower Mound resident had gotten to 8-under for the day and 12-under for the tournament with his birdie on No. 14.

But bogies on No. 16 and No. 17 kept the record safe. He did rebound with a birdie on the final hole to shoot a 7-under 63 for the round, which ties the lowest round of the tournament.

The course record is a 9-under 61, which has been shot six times, most recently by Chad Campbell in 2004.

Ames, who has a third place and a fourth place finish at the Colonial, was steady from start to finish and played a bogey-free round. He shot 3-under on the front nine and 3-under on the back nine to finish with a 6-under 64.

For awhile, Tim Clark looked like he might make a run at the course record. He birdied No. 11, No. 12 and No. 13 to move to 6-under for the day and 9-under for the tournament. But finished with five straight pars for a 64 on the day and he sits alone in fourth place.

“I’m a couple shots back ... which is OK,” Clark said. “It’ll be nice to go out without all the expectations. I think it’ll take a low score to win tomorrow because I don’t think the guys will back up any.”

Brian Gay also got off to a strong star as he was birdied four of the first seven holes to take over the top spot on the leaderboard at 10-under.

But he bogeyed No. 9 and was 2-over on the back nine to fall to 7-under for the tournament and is tied with Ben Crane and Kevin Sutherland for fifth place, four shots behind the leaders.

Overall, it was a day of low scores as 13 golfers shot 4-under or better for the third round.