SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Brandt Snedeker continues to apply pressure but he may be running out of holes at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Snedeker made a 5-footer for birdie at the par-3 16th, the tournament's wildly entertainly signature hole, to pull within three strokes of Mickelson. The leader, who is 27 under, narrowly missed a 15-footer for his own birdie there.
The group has two holes remaining. The 17th is a driveable par 4 that is playing to 317 yards on Sunday with the pin on the extreme left of the green. The 18th is a 449-yard par 4 with ample water in front of the tee and continuing down the left side of the fairway.
Mickelson is 3 under at the 17th while Snedeker eagled it in the first round and made a birdie there on Saturday.
Mickelson double bogeyed the 18th on Friday but made birdie there on Thursday and Saturday. Snedeker has played it in 1 under.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Brandt Snedeker faced quite a challenge at the par-5 13th when his drive landed underneath a branch of a jumping cholla cactus.
Complicating the issue was Phil Mickelson, who played first and put his second shot from 271 yards on the green for a 40-foot eagle try. But Snedeker really didn't have much choice -- and there are birdie holes remaining -- so he opted to take his medicine and the unplayable lie.
Snedeker then hit his third shot into the right greenside bunker. He blasted out to 4 feet and made the putt for par but he lost ground on Mickelson, who two-putted for his fourth birdie of the week on the 13th hole.
Mickelson is now 26 under and four strokes ahead of his playing partner. Scott Piercy and Ryan Moore are 20 under with four and five holes remaining, respectively.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- With nine holes to go in the Waste Management Phoenix Open, Phil Mickelson's lead has been cut in half.
Brandt Snedeker drained a 22-footer at the ninth hole to make the turn in 31 and pull within three strokes of the leader. Mickelson has made two birdies and a bogey in his first nine holes and stands 25 under for the tournament.
Ryan Moore, playing in the penultimate group, has birdied the ninth and 10th holes to get to 20 under. Ryan Palmer, Matt Every and Scott Piercy are 18 under, through 16, 13 and 11 holes, respectively.
Kevin Stadler has just finished off a round of 63 and is finished at 16 under.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- You've got to love it.
First, Phil Mickelson holes an improbable 57-footer at the par-3 third hole. The ball had to track over the fringe, then banked off the first cut and steered back onto the green before finding the cup. When the ball dropped, Mickelson pumped both arms in the air in celebration.
Snedeker had a much more makeable 11-footer for birdie. The man who led the TOUR in strokes-gained putting last year did what he does best -- and a smiling Mickelson walked up to give him a fist bump and a pat on the posterior.
The lead remains four strokes -- Mickelson is 25 under while Snedeker is at 21.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- For the second time on Sunday, Brandt Snedeker has cut Phil Mickelson's lead to four strokes.
The first came after Mickelson was unable to get up-and-down from the greenside bunker at the second hole -- only his second above-par hole this week. Snedeker made a 13-footer from the fringe on the third hole to get to 19 under but Mickelson answered that challenge when he drained a 30-footer for birdie at No. 4 to return to where he started the round at 24 under.
Snedeker, though, has now moved to 20 under when he holed a 33-foot chip from the fringe at the sixth hole. Mickelson missed from 27 feet there and had to make a 5-footer for par to avoid his first three-putt in 82 holes.
Snedeker, who is the reigning FedExCup champ, has come-from-behind to win three of his four PGA TOUR events. He's made up deficits of seven, six and five strokes in those wins.
Ryan Moore and Padraig Harrington, meanwhile, had made two birdies and are 18 under.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Should Phil Mickelson go on to win the Waste Management Phoenix Open, he'll head to his title defense at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am this week with considerable momentum.
A win at TPC Scottsdale would continue two trends for Mickelson, too.
His third Waste Management Phoenix Open title would be his 19th on the West Coast swing, which always seems to set the tone for the rest of Mickelson's season. It would also make 2013 the 10th straight year in which Mickelson has won a PGA TOUR event, the longest streak on TOUR.
Here are some of the other records he's pursing on Sunday.
>>> Lowest 72-hole score in PGA TOUR history: 254 (Tommy Armour, 26-under, 2003 Valero Texas Open)
>>> Lowest 72-hole score in Waste Management Phoenix Open history: 256 (Mark Calcavecchia, 28-under, 2001)
>>> Largest winning margin at the Waste Management Phoenix Open: 14 strokes, Johnny Miller, 1975
>>> Largest winning margin on the PGA TOUR: 16 strokes: J. Douglas Edgar (1919 Canadian Open)
By comparison, Mickelson’s career-best 13-stroke win at the 2006 Bellsouth Classic is tied for eighth all-time
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The sky is gray and the air is cool as Phil Mickelson begins his trek toward history at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Mickelson, who starts the final round with a six-stroke advantage, needs a 64 in order to shoot the lowest score in PGA TOUR history. That distinction is now owned by Tommy Armour, who shot 254 (on a par 70 course) at the Valero Texas Open.
Mickelson, who is 24 under, is playing with Brandt Snedeker and Padraig Harrington, who shot 63 on Saturday and trails by eight. Snedeker, who tied for second last week at the Farmers Insurance Open, would like nothing better than to drain some birdie putts early in his round to put pressure on Mickelson.
"I'm not playing for second," Snedeker, who is 18 under, said. "I have already had one of those this year. You play to win, and I'm going to try to win (Sunday)."
Snedeker has come from behind in three of his four victories -- making up deficits of seven, six and five strokes.
Mickelson's performance this week at TPC Scottsdale, where he has won two times before, certainly has been impressive. He's made 24 birdies and one eagle with the only blemish on his card a double bogey at the 18th hole on Friday.
"He's definitely put himself in a great position," said Troy Matteson, who started the final round at 15 under. "... Hats off to him. A guy comes out and almost shoots 59 the first round, it's just really unbelievable to see guys play like that because the quality of golf is so good out here. It's hard to get three, four, five, six shots ahead."
Judging from the early results, TPC Scottsdale is once again yielding birdies. Ryan Palmer and Bo Van Pelt are 4 under through seven holes while Bubba Watson is at the same number through eight and Kevin Stadler has turned in 31.
"You just know you've got to go shoot a great score to make up any ground the way he's playing," said Ryan Moore, who started the final round 16 under. "... You've just got to approach (Sunday) and keep your head down and keep playing hard. Never know what's going to happen."
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Yes, that was Padraig Harrington kicking footballs, not futbols, into the grandstands at the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale on Saturday. He'll probably do it again during the final round, too.
The Irishman came to play in the Waste Management Phoenix Open for the first time this week determined to embrace the atmosphere, and as it turns out, Harrington has been energized by it as well.
The three-time major champion fired a 63 on Saturday that matched his second-lowest score on the PGA TOUR and landed Harrington in Sunday's final pairing with Phil Mickelson and Brandt Snedeker. Granted, he's eight strokes behind Mickelson, tied with Ryan Moore, but Harrington is very pleased with the state of his game.
And with good reason. Harrington started Saturday with three straight birdies, then added another at the fifth hole and eventually made the turn in 30. He got to 14 under with a birdie at the 11th hole, then bounced back from his lone bogey with a birdie at the par-5 13th when he two-putted from 15 feet. He flushed it at the next par 5 and capped his scoring with a 9-footer for eagle.
Harrington said the quick start set the stage for the round.
"Then your confidence is open," he explained. "I kept creating chances from then on in. If I look back at the round, you know, it's possible I could say I had a lot of chances that I didn't take, but ultimately, you know, my game is in good shape so it's easier to be patient when your game is in good shape.
"You don't feel like this is your only opportunity, let's say."
Harrington said the idea to kick the footballs into the crowd at the 16th hole came from his sponsor, Wilson, who makes the official football of the NFL and Sunday's Super Bowl. He used his caddy for a placeholder for the first, then punted another six or seven. He said he was more nervous doing that than hitting that 8-iron to 16 feet.
"I'm a professional golfer," Harrington said. "I have hit 8-irons before in my life under pressure. I have a routine, and I know what I'm doing. When it comes to kicking especially an American football, I have never done it before.
"I did not want to screw up the first one along the ground, for sure. I did want to get it airborne a little bit of distance. I found when I punted it, the first three or four, I hooked them quite a bit, and then the last one, I actually made sweet contact and kicked it over the stand, actually cleared the whole thing."
Playing the final four holes was a kick for Harrington, as well. He liked seeing Irish flags in the gallery and he loved that the fans at the 16th amused themselves by chanting the quintessential soccer refrain "Ole, ole, ole."
"Having gone to football matches in my day and sang it myself, when it's sung to you, it's a special," he said.
Harrington, who is seeking his first TOUR win since he won his second and third majors in 2008, likened the emotions he felt playing the closing stretch at TPC Scottsdale to the way he felt making his professional debut.
"You know what you're doing, but it's hard to keep your mind from racing away from you," he explained. "... The adrenaline is pumping over those last three, four holes. Very exciting indeed."
Take the 17th hole, a 337-yard par 4. Harrington said he hit his driver as easy as he could there because he was so pumped up after walking out of the stadium at No. 16.
"It is exciting," Harrington said. "You have to embrace that. That's what we're here for. We play a lot of events during the year and good events, but this is unique here. ... It's unique in a great way. I really do like the idea. You know, you've got to enjoy it. You've got to love it and, as I said, embrace it.
"Yeah, your emotions run away a bit. ... You're feeling the exact same emotions as you would be if you're trying to win the tournament and you're only out there. It's exciting. You know, you'd love golf to be like that certainly a lot of weeks."
By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Phil Mickelson lost a six-shot lead by making double bogey on the 18th hole late Friday afternoon. Many suggested the two-shot swing would prove to be critical. That deficit lasted just one hole. Mickelson made birdie at the first, while Bill Haas made bogey and the six-shot lead was restored just 15 minutes into the third round.
The coliseum: The 16th hole at the Waste Management Phoenix Open is always memorable on a Saturday afternoon, as the 20,000-seat amphitheater is rocking. There are the usual caddie races and some occasional sideshows. Padraig Harrington sent footballs into the crowd in preparation for the Super Bowl, saying it was the very first time he had ever kicked an American football. The fans savored every moment.
Putter loft: It turned into a bad day for Keegan Bradley with a 73 but it may be a good week in the long run. Bradley has not felt comfortable with his putter and extensive testing this week concluded he needed less loft. The adjustment was made and Bradley says there is a noticeable difference in the way the ball rolls off the putter face.
Pepsi: Steve Hale loves Pepsi. Bradley's caddie is well known for stashing cans of the soda at strategic locations throughout the course to be retrieved and enjoyed during play. This week presented a problem since the desert landscaping did not provide suitable camouflage. Hale still found a hiding place in the first two rounds. He snuck a couple cans of Pepsi into Kyle Stanley's bag, who was paired with Bradley on Thursday and Friday. Hale enjoyed watching someone else carry around his 12-ounce cans and covertly retrieved them during play.
Hole location: There were several tough pins during the third round but the seventh hole's was brutal. The hole played 222 yards and the flag was tucked 24 paces onto the green and just behind a bunker. Anything short became a difficult uphill two-putt while anything long ran off the back of the sloping green. The hole did not give up a single birdie to anyone who began their round at the first and played a third of a stroke over par.
Driver: Mickelson hit driver at the 18th hole into the left rough and predicted he will do the same thing on Sunday. After hitting 3-wood into the water on Friday, Mickelson changed to driver on Saturday. It's a 300-yard carry over the water, a 315-yard carry past the water and bunker. By hitting driver, Mickelson takes the water out of play and if he loses it left, the rough is not severe and the angle into the green is good. Mickelson says he would not mind having the same shot on Sunday.
Adrenaline: Mickelson has a simple formula for playing the 16th hole. He takes five yards off the actual yardage. Mickelson says a player can't help but be energized by the 20,000 fans and that gets the adrenaline pumping. Phil subtracts five yards and plays that number. It worked perfectly on Saturday. At 174 yards, Phil hit a “stock 9-iron” 167 yards. It wound up two feet from the cup and the ensuing applause echoed throughout TPC Scottsdale until floating into the ionosphere, where I imagine the cheers are still moving the decibel meter.
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here.