Mickelson soars with pair of eagles

Phil Mickelson gives a thumbs up as he walks off the 18th green after finishing the third round of the Masters golf tournament with an 11-under par in Augusta, Ga., Saturday, April 10, 2010.

AUGUSTA -- Compared to Phil Mickelson who made back-to-back eagles Saturday, Lee Westwood's 4-under-par 68 in the third round of the Masters Tournament was rather mundane -- a bunch of routine pars to go along with five birdies, a bogey and an up-and-down par on the 18th.

But it was enough to give Westwood, currently No. 4 in the world rankings, a one-shot lead at 12-under-par 204 heading into today's final round of the tournament at Augusta National Golf Club.

Mickelson, a two-time Masters champion, had an electrifying round of 67 that included consecutive eagles at the par-5 13th and par-4 14th holes, only the third time in Masters history that a player

has eagled consecutive holes. Mickelson narrowly missed a third straight eagle when his wedge from about 90 yards came within a couple of inches of going in, leaving him with a tap-in birdie.

Tiger Woods' comeback, meanwhile, remained on track following a five-month absence from the game while trying to sort out his troubled and well chronicled personal life.

Woods posted a 2-under-par 70 that included seven birdies but no eagles. He is tied for third with K.J. Choi at 208, and the two will be paired together today for the fourth straight round.

Fifty-year-old Fred Couples, the 1992 Masters champion, joined Mickelson in producing Masters fireworks when he chipped in for eagle at 15 on his way to a round of 68 and sole possession of fifth at 209.

Westwood, who has never won a major, was the No. 4 player in the world in 2000, but by the end of 2002, poor play saw him plummet to No. 183. He has clawed his way back up the ladder and had third-place finishes last year in both the British Open and PGA Championship. His best Masters finish was sixth in 1999. Westwood won the European PGA Tour's money title in 2009.

"It was amazing how calm I felt out there today," said Westwood, who was tied for the lead going into Saturday's round and stayed at the top of the leaderboard for all but a brief moment. "I've got my own little bubble in my own little world that I wander around in now."

Westwood said he figured it was Mickelson, No. 3 in the world, who was making the charge ahead of him.

"That's what major championships are about," Westwood said. "They are tough ones to win because great players do great things at major championships."

He said Mickelson's charge was out of his control and players have to expect the unexpected.

Mickelson said Saturday was a fun day to watch the leaderboard because of the roars going up throughout the course. But a lot of the roars belonged to Mickelson fans, who saw him hole an 8-foot putt for eagle on the 13th hole, then hole a 9-iron from 139 yards on the 440-yard 14th hole.

"It was pretty cool, that walk up. I can't believe the ball disappeared and went in. It was sure fun, especially after eagling 13. That walk up (to the green) was awesome," Mickelson said.

One of Mickelson's big disappointments was an errant drive on the 15th which landed behind a tree and forced him to lay up on the par-5 hole in his quest for three eagles in a row.

"I played about as well as I have in a long time," Mickelson said. "This is the way I expect to play. I haven't played that way in a long time, and I feel great about my game."

Even though he trails Westwood by four shots and Mickelson by three, Woods, still No. 1 in the world rankings, said he is pleased with his position.

"I wanted to put myself in contention and I did that," Woods said. "A good round tomorrow, you never know."

Woods said he battled his swing throughout the day as well as the pace of the greens. He three-putted three times, but finished the round on a positive note, making birdie at 18.

"The guys were running away from me," Woods said. "At one point I was seven back, so to claw my way back in there where I'm only four back, I think I'm in good shape."