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Mickelson delights Abu Dhabi crowd with spectacular 63

Phil Mickelson of the U.S. lines the ball on the 18th green during the Abu Dhabi Golf championship January 18,2014. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah
Phil Mickelson of the U.S. lines the ball on the 18th green during the Abu Dhabi Golf championship January 18,2014. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah

(Reuters) - World number five Phil Mickelson produced a typical swashbuckling effort to surge into contention with a nine-under-par 63 in the third round of the $2.7 million Abu Dhabi Championship on Saturday.

The five-times major winner blitzed his way to the turn in 31 strokes with four birdies, an eagle and one bogey.

Mickelson added five more birdies coming home, together with a dropped stroke at the 14th, to snatch the clubhouse lead with a 10-under total of 206.

The American's final hole summed up his third-round performance at the European Tour event.

Mickelson found a bunker off the tee at the par-five 18th before hitting his second shot into sandy waste.

With a palm tree in front of him, the 43-year-old Californian conjured a low, fading escape that scuttled up on to the green and he fist-pumped the air in delight when he rolled in his putt from 30 feet for a spectacular closing birdie.

"It probably wasn't very sensible of me to try to go for the green but hey, that's what I do," Mickelson told reporters.

"I was fortunate in that I just had enough room to trap out a low pitching wedge that flew under the leaves and up on to the green.

"To get back in contention to win my first golf tournament of the year is hugely important so I'll look forward to tomorrow," said Mickelson.

Also on 10-under and still out on the course were world number seven Rory McIlroy, Briton Craig Lee and India's Gaganjeet Bhullar.

(Writing by Tony Jimenez; editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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