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The Tour Report

February 2 2013

6:03 PM

Mickelson opens six-shot lead

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- On a day when nearly all the record 179,022 fans seemed to be cheerng for him, Phil Mickelson calmly went about his business and extended his lead at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Twice players pulled within three strokes of him but each time Mickelson met the challenge -- and then some. He closed his round of 64 with four straight birdies, and five in his final six holes, to move to 24 under and open a six-stroke advantage over Brandt Snedeker.

"At this golf course especially you've got to keep it going because you'll get passed pretty quickly," Mickelson said. "So you do have to keep focused on making birdies because guys are doing that, and they will catch you. But sometimes when you get it going, you start thinking about the numbers and it will stop you from pushing forward. 

"That's one of the things that I have tried to do this week is just keep pushing, just keep trying to make birdies and hit good shots, get after pins and play aggressive, get good pace on the greens and make some putts, because if I don't, you will be caught pretty quickly.
"Same thing goes tomorrow.  I've got to go out and make some birdies and keep it going."

The exclamation point to the round came at the 16th hole where Mickelson's 9-iron tracked tantilizingly toward the hole before stopping 20 inches shy.

Snedeker, who tied for second last week at the Farmers Insurance Open and was third in the season-opener on Maui, fired a third-round 65. Trailing by eight are Padraig Harrington and Ryan Moore, who shot 63 and 65, respectively on a sun-drenched Saturday in the desert.

Mickelson, who is bidding to win the Waste Management Phoenix Open for the third time, tied the event's 54-hole scoring record and was one stroke off the all-time PGA TOUR mark for 54 holes. He has never shot lower than 17 under for 72 holes at TPC Scottsdale in 22 previous appearances.