Mickelson leads by six in front of record crowd at Phoenix Open
BY JOHN NICHOLSON Associated Press
Sunday, February 03, 2013
2/03/13 at 6:21 AM
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - Phil Mickelson drew the loudest cheers from the biggest crowd in golf history Saturday at the Phoenix Open.
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," Mickelson said.
"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. The event has drawn 467,030 fans for the week and is in position to break the mark of 538,356 set in 2008.
Mickelson birdied the final four holes and five of the last six for a 7-under 64 and a six-stroke lead over Brandt Snedeker.
The 42-year-old former Arizona State star has led after each round, opening with a 60 and shooting a 65 on Friday. He fell a stroke short of the tour record for the first 54 holes, and matched the tournament mark set by Mark Calcavecchia in 2001.
Making his 24th appearance in the event that he won in 1996 and 2005, 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 victories.
Snedeker had a 65 to reach 18 under. He tied for second Monday at Torrey Pines, four strokes behind Tiger Woods in the fog-delayed event.
Padraig Harrington and Ryan Moore were tied for third at 16 under. Harrington, making his first appearance in the event, shot a 63, and Moore had a 65.
Scotland's Gallacher takes 3-shot lead in Dubai: Stephen Gallacher of Scotland shot a 10-under 62 on Saturday 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.
The 111th-ranked Gallacher, who just missed out on a playoff last year in Dubai, is looking for his first European Tour win since 2004. He holed a 25-yard bunker shot on the 18th for an eagle to finish with a 21-under 195 in rare rainy conditions in the desert. That improved on Woods' tournament mark by a shot and just missed tying the course record of 61 set in 1994 by Ernie Els.
Original Print Headline: Record crowd cheers Mickelson
Phil Mickelson hits from the seventh tee during the third round of the Phoenix Open on Saturday in Scottsdale, Ariz. MATT YORK/Associated Press