Mickelson wows crowd, builds sizable advantage

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Phil Mickelson drew the loudest cheers from the biggest crowd in golf history on Saturday at the Phoenix Open.

Phil Mickelson watches his birdie putt drop on the 18th green in the third round of the Phoenix Open. He birdied the final four holes and five of his last six to shoot 64.   MATT YORK/ASSOCIATED PRESS
MATT YORK/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Phil Mickelson watches his birdie putt drop on the 18th green in the third round of the Phoenix Open. He birdied the final four holes and five of his last six to shoot 64.

Mickelson nearly aced the par-3 16th, hitting a 9-iron to a foot to set up a birdie on the rowdy stadium hole packed with nearly 20,000 screaming fans.

“What’s funny about that is 172 yards is a very tough 9-iron for me to get there, but I immediately take 5 yards off and in my head I had 167,” said Mickelson, who leads by six. “The reason is you always have a little bit of adrenaline here, and the ball goes a little bit longer on 16.

“I played for a 167-yard shot and tried to hit just a comfortable or stock 9-iron, and the ball ended up flying that far and released to the hole. Having played this course and that hole over the years and knowing what your body does and how to adjust to it has helped me, and certainly it did today.”

Estimated at 179,022, the third-round crowd broke the record of 173,210 set last year, also on a Saturday at fan-friendly TPC Scottsdale.

Mickelson birdied the final four holes and five of the last six for 7-under-par 64 and 189 total. Brandt Snedeker is a distant second.

“I know how good Sned­eker is and how hot he can get with a putter,” Mickelson said. “He can make birdie from just about anywhere. He’s going to make a run tomorrow. I, hopefully, will be able to keep pace.”

Mickelson fell a stroke short of the tour record for the first 54 holes, and matched the tournament mark set by Mark Calcavecchia in 2001.

Mickelson is trying to complete his third wire-to-wire victory and first since the 2006 BellSouth Classic – a
13-stroke blowout the week before the second of his three
Masters Tournament victories.

EUROPEAN TOUR: In Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Stephen Gallacher shot 10-under-par 62 to take a three-shot lead at the Dubai Desert Classic and break a three-round scoring record set by Tiger Woods 12 years ago.

He holed a 25-yard bunker shot on the 18th for an eagle to finish with 21-under 195. That improved on Woods’ tournament mark by a shot and just missed tying the course record of 61 set in 1994 by Ernie Els.

LADIES EUROPEAN TOUR: In Gold Coast, Australia, 16-year-old amateur Oh Su-hyun and 17-year-old Ariya Jutanugarn share the second-round lead at the Australian Ladies Masters.

Oh shot 8-under-par 64 on the soggy Royal Pines course hit by more than 16 inches of rain in the past week, while Ariya had 65. They have two-round totals of 10-under 134 and a one-stroke lead.

Seven-time Australian Masters champion Karrie Webb is tied for fifth.

LOCAL INTEREST

BRIAN GAY

Louisville, Ga.*

Score 65-66-72

Shots back 14

CHARLES HOWELL

Augusta native

Score 67-68-69

Shots back 15

* former resident


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