SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Phil Mickelson drew the loudest roars 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.
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 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 career 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.
He also is in position to match the tournament record of three victories set by Arnold Palmer and matched by Gene Littler and Calcavecchia. Mickelson won the last of his 40 PGA Tour titles 51 weeks ago at Pebble Beach.
The left-hander played the first 12 holes in 2 under, making a 20-foot birdie putt on the par-4 first and a 25-footer on the par-4 fifth. He got up and down from greenside bunkers for birdies on the par-5 13th and 15th holes, followed with the tap-in on 16, then chipped to 2 feet on the 337-yard 17th.
A day after making a double-bogey 6 on the 18th when he hit a 3-wood drive into the water on the left, Mickelson blasted driver over the water and into the grandstand. He got a free drop, hit to 15 feet and holed the putt to another round of loud cheers.
Australian Ladies Masters
TEENS LEAD AFTER TWO ROUNDS: In Gold Coast, Australia, sixteen-year-old Australian amateur Oh Su-hyun and 17-year-old Thai golfer Ariya Jutanugarn shared the second-round lead Saturday at the Australian Ladies Masters.
Oh shot an eight-under-par 64 on the soggy Royal Pines course hit by more than 16 inches of rain in the past week, while Ariya had a 65. They had two-round totals of 10-under 134 and a one-stroke lead heading into the final round Sunday of the European Ladies Tour’s opening event of the season.
GALLACHER TAKES 3-SHOT LEAD: In Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Stephen Gallacher shot a 10-under 62 on Saturday to grab 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 Scotsman, who finished second last year in Dubai, is looking for his first European Tour win since 2004. Gallacher holed a bunker shot on 18 for an eagle to finish with a 21-under total of 195. That improved on Woods’ tournament mark by a shot and just missed tying the course record of 61 set back in 1994 by Ernie Els.
Overnight leader Richard Sterne (66) tried to keep pace with the Scotsman, sinking long birdie putts on the eighth and 11 holes and then a 45-footer from the fringe on 15. Thorbjorn Olesen (67) was five shots back in third place.