Levin keeps up pace in Phoenix Open

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Spencer Levin remained in control in the Phoenix Open in front of the largest crowd in tournament history, shooting 3-under-par 68 on Saturday to take a six-stroke lead into the final round.

Spencer Levin hits his approach shot on the first hole during the third round of the Phoenix Open. He shot 68 and leads by six in search of his first PGA Tour victory.  ROSS D. FRANKLIN/ASSOCIATED PRESS
ROSS D. FRANKLIN/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Spencer Levin hits his approach shot on the first hole during the third round of the Phoenix Open. He shot 68 and leads by six in search of his first PGA Tour victory.

The crowd of 173,210 in perfect conditions at TPC Scottsdale’s Stadium Course broke the record of 170,802 set in the third round in 2008.

“It was fun for sure, but I was trying to focus, too,” Levin said about the huge crowd and party atmosphere. “You don’t get that too often, all those people cheering.”

Levin, five strokes ahead after the completion of the second round Saturday morning, had four birdies and a bogey to reach 17 under. The bogey on the par-5 15th was his first since the opening hole of the tournament.

“I felt like I played solid,” Levin said. “I felt like I was in control of my ball most of the day, and yeah, I’m pleased. I’ve never had a big lead like that starting the day, and I thought I played well. Overall, I’m pleased about it.”

Webb Simpson was 11- under after 68. At No. 6 in the world, he’s the highest-ranked player in the field.

“I feel good, but my swing is just not really getting in sync,” Simpson said. “I’m missing the ball left and right. I want to polish that up. But I made a bunch of good swings down the stretch that gave me a lot of confidence.”

The 27-year-old Levin, remembered for a hole-in-one and 13th-place tie in the 2004 U.S. Open at Shinnecock while still in school at New Mexico, is winless on the PGA Tour. He came close last year, losing a playoff to Johnson Wagner in the Mayakoba Golf Classic. Last week at Torrey Pines, Levin had a share of the first-round lead after 62, but followed with rounds of 76, 73 and 72 to tie for 43rd.

LOCAL INTEREST

CHARLES HOWELL

Augusta native

Score  69-68-71

Shots back  12

BLAKE ADAMS

Swainsboro, Ga.

Score  69-70-74

Shots back  17

KEVIN KISNER

Aiken native

Score  69-71-74

Shots back  18

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