By Dan Loumena
6:40 PM EST, February 2, 2013
Phil Mickelson continued his near-record-setting pace on Saturday at the Phoenix Open in Scottsdale, Ariz., when he shot a seven-under-par 64 to open a six-shot lead after three rounds.
His 54-hole total of 24-under 189 is tied for second on the PGA Tour list, one stroke behind Steve Stricker's record 188 at the John Deere Classic in 2010. The 189 tied the Phoenix Open record for 54 holes, originally established by Mark Calcavecchia in 2001.
Brandt Snedeker is a distant second at 18-under 195 following a 65 on Saturday. Tied for third are Padraig Harrington, who had the day's low round with 63, and Ryan Moore (65) at 19 under. Troy Matteson had a 66 to move into fifth at 20 under.
“To me, the wire-to-wire [win] isn't that important except for now I'm three rounds and the fourth one is kind of the more important one,” said Mickelson, who shot a 60 during the opening round.
Playing conditions were perfect Saturday, when a record crowd of 179,022 was in attendance.
Mickelson, who led by at least three strokes throughout the third round, fended off all challenges Saturday by getting birdies on five of the last six holes, including the last four in a row.
The 6-foot-3 left-hander, who last had a PGA Tour victory in February 2012 at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, has never finished a TPC Scottsdale tournament at better than 17 under, which would seem a lock for him to do heading into the final round Sunday.
“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.”