Lefty two back of Lee after firing 63

Craig Lee of Scotland led for the second day in a row, but  again was overshadowed by players behind him, this time Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy, in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Lee, seeking his first victory on the European Tour, shot 3-under-par 69 in round three to take a two-stroke lead over Mickelson, who roared into contention with a 63, and Gaganjeet Bhullar of India, who had a 66.

“I love the fact that I’m in contention and I have an opportunity (to win) here in the first week of the year,” said Mickelson, who recorded nine birdies, an eagle and two bogeys in his third round.

“What I like is that it feels better each day. The first day, I felt terrible. The second day, half of it started to come around and today it started to feel pretty good, and hopefully I’ll be able to build on it again tomorrow.”

McIlroy recorded what he thought was a 68 that would have put him one stroke behind Lee, but after the round he was assessed a two-stroke penalty for taking an improper drop on the second hole and wound up with a 70 that left him tied for fourth, three shots back.

“I hit my second shot on the second into the left rough but on the spectator crosswalk,” said McIlroy, who wound up with a double-bogey 7 on No. 2. “I took a drop and played my shot, but I did not notice my left foot was still on the line and you need to take full relief.

“We went out to see it again and see my divot, and it was clear I could not have played my shot with my feet anywhere else. It’s unfortunate. If anything, it was a disadvantage because I dropped it in a bad lie and did not make birdie.

“I have to try to make up the shots as early as possible tomorrow. It gives me a bit of extra motivation.”

Luke Donald shot 71 and was in a tie for 39th that included Sergio Garcia, who had a 70.


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