Phil Mickelson and Nick Watney dueled for the lead at Doral as the third round of the World Golf Championships - CA Championship built to its climax on the Blue Monster course.
World Number Three Phil Mickelson had begun the day with the halfway lead at 13 under par, two ahead of fellow American Watney with Kenny Perry and Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy at ten under in a tie for third place.
As they reached the turn, it was Watney who held a one shot lead over playing partner Mickelson at 15 under, while Perry and McIlroy had improved to 11 under and had been joined by Australia’s Rod Pampling, Spain’s Alvaro Quiros and Camilo Villegas of Colombia.
Mickelson was battling to keep his driver in check in a three birdie, two bogey front nine while Watney holed three early birdies in a row and added another at the sixth to join Mickelson in the lead.
Watney had edged in front when the three time major champion carded a bogey at the par four seventh, three putting from 38 feet, including a miss from five feet.
He, too, slipped up, though, with a bogey at the 11th to leave them sharing the lead at 14 under.
Quiros and McIlroy both moved to within a shot of the lead at 13 under, Quiros with birdies at the 11th and 12th.
McIlroy, the youngest player in the field and bidding to become the youngest tournament winner in US PGA Tour history as the age of 19 years, 10 months and 12 days, was soon to join him.
The teenager conjured a great birdie at the par five tenth having overcooked a fairway wood from 272 yards out.
He chipped back from the rough, 75 feet out, to inside four feet from the hole and another birdie followed at the 12th.
Going well alongside Pampling, Jeev Milka Singh and Villegas at 12 under was Denmark’s Søren Kjeldsen, four under for the day after 15 holes while the best round of the day in the clubhouse belonged to his compatriot Søren Hansen, who was eight under for the day and nine under for the week following a third round 64.
Ireland’s World Number Five Padraig Harrington, who had started at seven under, was well placed at ten under par having played 16 holes as was playing partner Paul Casey of England, with his compatriot Luke Donald, who had gone bogey free until reaching the 17th and had carded five birdies, including a hat-trick at ten, 11 and 12, posting a 68 to reach nine under.
Australia’s Aaron Baddeley was disqualified midway through his round after realising he had committed an infringement in the second round and therefore signed an incorrect scorecard.
Having driven into the edge of a water hazard on the third hole yesterday, Baddeley kicked a stone out of the way as he took his stance.
Finding a near identical spot, Baddeley asked a nearby rules official if he could do the same thing again only to be told it was against the rules.
“When he said that, I was like ‘Ooh, I think I did that yesterday,” Baddeley admitted.
“I spoke to (referee) Mike Shea and told him what happened and he said, unfortunately, that will be a disqualification. And I sort of knew that.”