Cochran's new record

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The Independent Online
Kentucky may be in the American Mid-West, but Phil Mickelson has never won a professional tournament as far east as Louisville. His victory at Irving, Texas, in May, his third of the season, is the least westward of his eight US Tour wins. Highly talented, as he showed in compiling rounds of 67, 67 to lead by three at halfway in the 78th USPGA Championship, he can also be erratic.

Third in the US Masters, a putting problem led to lowly finishes in the US and British Opens and it recurred yesterday. He also found the water at the 13th and took a double-bogey six. Renowned for his short game, he left a bunker shot in the sand at the last. A 74 meant he not only lost the lead, but low southpaw honours as well.

Russ Cochran swept by with a new Valhalla course record of 65 to lead at 11 under by two from Mark Brooks and Vijay Singh. The leading major winners are Steve Elkington, the defending champion, who shot his second 67 of the week, and Nick Price, the winner in '92 and '94, at eight under with Mickelson.

Brooks, a Texan who was fifth in the Open last month, holed a six-iron for an eagle two at the 15th, but Cochran, 37, a resident of the Bluegrass State, was the gallery's favourite. He has missed more cuts than he has made this season and only qualified for the tournament with a second place two weeks ago. Last year a disc problem in his neck led to him having to go back to the Qualifying School.

"I pretty much hit rock bottom," he said. "A friend of mine, Freddy Sanders, started caddying for me again and we've worked hard." His first birdie came from a seven-foot putt at the first, and his seventh by getting up and down from a bunker at the last. "Yesterday I felt like I was fighting every shot. But after the first few holes I felt an amazing calmness. I had a calmness and a confidence out there which carried me through the whole round."

Like Cochran, Ian Woosnam started at four under but after a bogey-eagle opening, the Welshman never found any momentum. At the last, his drive went somewhere right of right and he took a double-bogey seven. His 75 dropped him back to one under.

If Saturday is known as moving day, then a removals van, rather than a courtesy car, was revving up as Nick Faldo completed a third-round 74. What he would have given for Per-Ulrik Johansson's six-under 66. Faldo had started the day 10 behind Mickelson hoping for a charge to get back into contention.

A birdie at the par-five second and a 50-foot putt for birdie at the fifth, a present Faldo accepted by feigning a tug of his non-existent cap, were good early moments, but disaster struck at the short eighth. He pushed his tee shot - "a half-shank, with pike, I've done it before," he admitted - at the 165-yard par-three into a lateral water hazard, and put his next into a hollow at the back of the green. He did the difficult bit by lagging his first putt to four feet, then missed the next costing a triple-bogey six. Driving into the rough at the ninth meant another bogey and a front nine of 39.

"I was trying a new follow-through and it did not work," the Masters champion, who birdied the last two holes to finish at two over for the championship, said. "I ditched it and after the 10th I swung the club well. It's been a nothing sort of week. When I came here I was looking forward to it. I got off to a good start, but didn't keep it going." His coach, David Leadbetter, added: "He looked frustrated even before he teed off. He won't admit it, but I think he feels he should have won the British Open."

Johansson claimed eight birdies and stood at seven under for his round after 16 holes. A pulled drive at the 17th cost a bogey and he was long with his second to the par-five last but made par at the second easiest hole on the course. "The finish was disappointing, but I am really pleased," Johansson said. "I felt awful on the practice range and just tried not to think of any swing thoughts. Sometimes things happen when you are not expecting them."

The Swede, 29, who was at college with Mickelson, only made the cut on the one-over cut-off mark by birdieing the last two holes on Friday. His countryman, Jesper Parnevik, was in similar danger until he birdied seven of the last 10 holes and if that inspired Johansson, Parnevik wanted to continue the challenge. He left it late to make a move, birdieing 16 and eagling the last for a 69 to go to seven under. "I was on my way back to Sweden after eight holes yesterday, and then suddenly the putts started dropping."

That nine of the 13 Europeans in the field had made the cut was a good showing for those on a one-week excursion. Germany's Alex Cejka will today become one of only 14 players to play all four rounds of the four majors this year, and the only European based in Europe (Faldo also achieved the feat) to do it.

Complete third-round scores

US unless stated

205

R Cochran 70 70 65

207

M Brooks 68 70 69

V Singh (Fiji) 68 69 69

208

P Mickelson 67 67 74

S Elkington (Aus) 67 74 67

N Price (Zimb) 68 71 69

209

J Leonard 71 66 72

K Perry 66 72 71

G Norman (Aus) 68 72 69

M Brisky 71 69 69

J Parnevik (Swe) 73 67 69

210

L Janzen 68 71 71

R Mediate 71 72 67

L Mize 71 70 69

211

T Tolles 69 71 71

T Lehman 71 71 69

C Strange 73 70 68

P-U Johansson (Swe) 73 72 66

212

D Edwards 69 71 72

F Nobilo (NZ) 69 72 71

B Watts 70 71 71

P Burke 71 72 69

T Herron 71 73 68

J Haas 72 71 69

213

T Watson 69 71 73

J Furyk 70 70 73

B Faxon 72 68 73

M A Jimenez (Sp) 71 71 71

D Ogrin 75 70 68

214

J Morse 74 69 72

M Calcavecchia 70 74 70

T Nakajima (Japan) 73 72 69

J Sindelar 73 72 69

215

I Woosnam (GB) 68 72 75

S McCarron 69 72 74

F Zoeller 76 67 72

E Aubrey 69 74 72

F Funk 73 69 73

M O'Meara 71 70 74

B Mayfair 71 73 71

DA Weibring 71 73 71

C Pavin 71 74 70

M Bradley 73 72 70

G Day 72 73 70

216

N Lancaster 71 72 73

G Morgan 72 72 72

P Stankowski 70 75 71

J Sluman 72 72 72

P Blackmar 71 74 71

D Forsman 76 69 71

P Azinger 70 75 71

W Wood 70 75 71

217

J Gallagher Jnr 73 70 74

B Boyd 71 71 75

N Henke 72 70 75

P Stewart 73 70 73

D Duval 74 69 73

F Couples 74 68 75

L Rinker 73 71 73

C Rocca (It) 72 72 73

A Cejka (Ger) 71 74 72

S Stricker 73 72 72

218

J Adams 72 71 75

J Cook 69 75 74

S Hoch 72 72 74

N Faldo (GB) 69 75 74

B Crenshaw 74 71 73

219

W Grady (Aus) 74 67 78

J Maggert 73 70 76

J Edwards 68 76 75

W Austin 70 74 75

220

M Dawson 76 69 75

H Clark (GB) 73 72 75

M Wiebe 73 72 75

C Parry (Aus) 72 73 75

221

E Els (SA) 74 68 79

P Goydos 71 73 77

223

B Langer (Ger) 73 72 78

224

S Higashi (Japan) 72 72 80

J Reeves 74 71 79

S Ingraham 73 72 75

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