Mickelson closes the gap at BellSouth Classic

ATLANTA (Georgia): Phil Mickelson carded a seven-under 65 to move into contention after a lengthy Sunday at the US$5 million PGA BellSouth Classic, which finally saw the weather take a turn for the better. 

Mickelson is tied with Billy Mayfair (71) and two-time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal (69). 

The trio is stalking American Scott McCarron, who shot his second straight 69 and is looking for his third victory here, having won in 1997 and 2001. 

IN THE HUNT: Phil Mickelson rocketed up the leaderboard and into contention with a sizzling seven-under 65 at the rain-hit BellSouth Classic on Sunday, to sit one stroke back of clubhouse leader Scott McCarron.

The second round was halted Sunday with 33 players still on the course. 

They will complete their second rounds beginning on Monday morning as officials have shortened the event to 54 holes. Following the cut, the final round will begin. 

The defending Masters champion, Mickelson is four days away from beginning defence of his first major title. Incessant rain postponements prevented the first round from being completed until Sunday morning, and Mickelson closed out a two-over 74. 

The lefthanded American birdied three of the first four holes of his second round and carried the momentum throughout the rest of the day, moving to five-under 139 and within one shot of McCarron. 

“After that first round of 74 and two-over with this tournament being only 54 holes, I knew I needed to do something,” Mickelson said. 

“I was fortunate to be able to do it and at least have a chance going into tomorrow.” 

Mickelson has had a phenomenal season thus far, winning twice and losing a duel with Tiger Woods at Doral. 

But his preparation for the season's first major began before this event. 

“I haven't thought about The Masters yet,” he said. “I thought about it the last week and the week before when I was there scouting the course.” 

The winds died down from Saturday, when putts were being blown off course and going low was nearly impossible. 

With conditions a bit more playable Sunday, Mickelson took advantage with five birdies and an eagle at the par-four 13th hole, where he chipped in from 26 yards. 

This is the eighth of 14 PGA events this year to be plagued by at least one weather delay. Three days of rain delays caused last week's Players Championship to be completed on Monday. – AFP  

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