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Mickelson Running Away with Phoenix Open


After opening with rounds of 11-under-par 60 and 65, Phil Mickelson fired a 7-under 64 Saturday to take a six-shot lead in the Waste Management Phoenix Open. The $6.2 million PGA Tour event is taking place at the raucous TPC Scottsdale which, this week in perfect conditions, is ripe for low scores.

The 42-year-old carded seven birdies - including five on his final six holes - to reach 24-under 189, well within reach of the tournament's all-time record of 28-under 256 set by Mark Calcavecchia in 2001.

He matched Calcavecchia's 54-hole record, and came up a stroke short of tying the Tour's all-time low total over three rounds. In 54 holes his only dropped shots came with a double-bogey on the final hole Friday.

With a 65 on Sunday, Mickelson will tie the Tour's record-low mark of 254, set by Tommy Armour III in the 2003 Valero Texas Open. Another 64 will establish a new Tour scoring record.

As for breaking that record, Mickelson said at greenside, "I'll continue to be aggressive and go for birdies, but I want to be sure to take care of business (and secure a win)." If he does that, it will be the 41st of his storied career.

Despite a 65, Brandt Snedeker is six strokes behind the leader. Eight back are Ireland's Padraig Harrington - who carded Saturday's low round, an 8-under 63 - and Ryan Moore (65).

Mickelson, a former star at nearby Arizona State University and a long-time favorite of the large and rowdy Phoenix Open crowds, got the galleries roaring by nearly acing the par-3 16th hole, which is ringed by packed grandstands.

He knows how to play that hole and how best to marshal the excitement. "I knock five yards off the distance because you feel the adrenaline the crowd provides," he noted at greenside.

In solo fifth at 198 is Troy Matteson (66), while another stroke back are Brendan Steele (65) and Bill Haas (70).

For complete scoring, visit http://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard.html.