At age 48 Phil Mickelson is showing he remains a force in world golf as he eyes victory in his first tournament of 2019.

The five-times major champion will take a two-shot lead into the final round of the PGA Tour event in La Quinta, California, a tournament he has won twice before.

In his first tour start since October, Mickelson made three long birdie putts on the back nine on Saturday to as he shot a bogey-free six-under 66 on the Stadium Course at PGA West to get to 22-under 194.

He topped the leaderboard for the third straight day after matching his career-low score with an opening 60 at La Quinta Country Club and shooting a 68 on Friday on PGA West's Nicklaus Tournament Course.

The Hall of Famer won the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship last year for his 43rd PGA Tour title and first since the 2013 British Open.

Canadian Adam Hadwin was second after a 65 on the Nicklaus layout.

Cameron Davis was the best-placed Australian in a tie for 29th at 12 under after a 67 on the Stadium course.

Fellow youngster Curtis Luck had a horror finish of two double bogeys and bogey in a 76 at the same course to drop to 10-under, while Aaron Baddeley (68) was a shot further back and tied last.

The tournament winner in 2002 and 2004, Lefty rolled in a 35-foot birdie putt on the par-3 13th and added a 15-footer on the par-4 14th.

After missing a 9-foot try on the par-5 16th to spoil an up-and-down bid from the deep greenside bunker, he ran in a 25-footer on the island green, par-3 17th called Alcatraz.

Canadian Adam Hadwin was second after a 65 on the Nicklaus layout.