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Mickelson withstands an ace to keep the lead at Riviera

Phil Mickelson, Northern Trust Open, Riviera Country Club
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Phil Mickelson made three birdies and two bogeys Saturday.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Phil Mickelson lost his cushion, but not the lead Saturday at the Northern Trust Open.

Mickelson watched Jeff Quinney make a hole-in-one on the fabled sixth hole at Riviera that erased a four-shot margin, but saved par on the 18th hole for a 1-under 70 to stay in the lead and move one step closer to adding this trophy to his West Coast collection.

Quinney made a 35-foot birdie putt on the final hole for a 67 that set up what appears to be a two-man race in the final round.

Mickelson, whose 15 victories on the West Coast Swing have come in every city but Los Angeles, was at 11-under 202. He missed the green to the right on the final hole, chipped 7 feet by and saved par.

"I thought it was a good, solid round," Mickelson said. "It should be an interesting and tough day tomorrow."

Quinney delivered the best shot, and maybe the worst.

Along with his hole-in-one that he could hear, but not see, Quinney bladed a wedge over the green on the par-5 11th that led to a two-shot swing in Mickelson's favor, then spent the rest of the gorgeous afternoon trying to catch up.

Quinney was at 203, four shots ahead of everyone else.

John Rollins fell back with consecutive bogeys and had to settle for a 69 that left him at 6-under 207. Scott Verplank, who opened his round with a four-putt from 30 feet on the fringe, shot 71 and was another shot back with Stuart Appleby (69) and Vaughn Taylor (71).

"Other than Tiger, he's probably the next best front-runner," Verplank said of Mickelson, who is 21-7 with a 54-hole lead. "He's awful good. So I'm going to have to play exceptionally well, and probably then would need a little bit of help."

Mickelson also had a one-shot lead last year going into the final round, losing in a playoff to Charles Howell. There were five players within three shots of the lead a year ago, but only Quinney, a former U.S. Amateur champion who has not won on the PGA Tour, appears to be in his way this time.

"He's going to bring a lot to the table," Quinney said. "I have to bring my best to the table."

Quinney did not sound the least bit concerned about a four-shot deficit to Mickelson, saying after his second round that Riviera is not the type of course where one has to shoot 64 to make up ground.

Then, he looked as though he might do just that.

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