Originally created 08/03/97

Mickelson clings to International lead



CASTLE ROCK, Colo. (AP) - Phil Mickelson clung to a 1-point lead halfway through the weather-delayed third round of the Sprint International on Saturday.

When play was suspended by lightning and rain, Mickelson had 33 points through nine holes under the modified Stableford scoring system used in this event. Skip Kendall had 32 points through 10 holes.

Scott McCarren and Stuart Appleby each had 28.

U.S. Open champion Ernie Els leapfrogged 33 players on the leaderboard, scoring 14 points through 17 holes Saturday to raise his total to 25. Els had seven birdies - worth 2 points apiece - in his bogey-free round.

Mickelson began the round with a 3-point lead over McCarron.

Kendall, who started the day 5 points behind Mickelson, birdied five holes on his front nine, including four in a row, and swapped the lead with Mickelson, who birdied three holes.

Kendall, playing one hole ahead of Mickelson, birdied No. 7 to get to plus-30. Mickelson, then at plus-29, promptly birdied the sixth hole to move to 31. Kendall countered with another birdie at the par-5 eighth hole for 32 points, but the left-handed Mickelson also birdied the eighth.

The scoring system awards 5 points for an eagle, 2 for birdie, 0 for par, minus-1 for bogey and minus-3 for double bogey or worse.

David Sutherland had a hole-in-one on the 11th hole to join a group of players at plus-24. He used an 8-iron on the 197-yard hole.

Play has been disrupted twice by rain and lightning - once on Thursday, when half of the field failed to finish. Those players completed the first round Friday morning, then began second-round play, with some golfers forced to play as many as 33 holes that day.

Because of the late second-round tee times, play was suspended by darkness Friday, and 45 players finished their second round on Saturday morning.

The field was cut to exactly 72 players for Saturday's third round, so a playoff was not required. The field will be cut again to 24 for Sunday's final round. Scores are cumulative each day, unlike the formative years of this tournament when there were daily cuts and players started at zero each day.

Among those missing the 36-hole cut were Tom Watson, at plus-6; Steve Jones and defending champion Clarence Rose, both at plus-4, and Nick Faldo, at minus-12. Faldo had 25 straight pars, then faltered on his last 11 holes.