La Quinta, Calif. — Phil Mickelson was eager to put his poor 2003 season behind him. Through three days of the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, he's well on his way.
Mickelson shot an 8-under 64 Friday to go to 21-under and take the third-round lead. He had a 68 in his first round of the season, followed by a 63 the second day of the 90-hole Hope.
Coming off a winless streak of some 18 months, Mickelson knocked his drives mostly down the middle and was deadly accurate with his irons and putter while playing at PGA West.
Mickelson, the 2002 Hope champion who has slipped from second to 16th in the world rankings, leads 1988 champion Jay Haas and Ben Crane by two shots.
"I've been so looking forward for the year to start and this tournament to come around," said Mickelson, who dropped to 38th on the earnings list last year after being second for three consecutive seasons.
Robert Gamez had a tour record-tying 27 on the front nine and shot a 12-under 60 -- one off the 18-hole record -- to go to 16 under. Gamez played the 6,478-yard Indian Wells Country Club course, the shortest on the tour and also rated the easiest on the tour for the past three years.