On another picture-perfect day in the Arizona desert, Phil Mickelson continued to dominate TPC Scottsdale.
Mickelson began his third round with a four-stroke lead over Bill Haas and finished the day holding a six-stroke lead over Brandt Snedeker at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Padraig Harrington and Ryan Moore will begin the final round tied for third place at 16-under par, eight strokes behind Mickelson.
Mickelson made the turn at two-under par but caught fire with a birdie on the par-five 13th and then proceeded to birdie his final four holes of the day to post a third-round score of 64.
Mickelson’s 24-under-par score of 189 ties Mark Calcavecchia’s 54-hole tournament scoring record and was just one shy of Steve Stricker’s PGA Tour record of 188 through 54 holes at the 2011 John Deer Classic.
A score of 64 or lower tomorrow will allow Mickelson to break the PGA Tour’s 72-hole scoring record, currently held by Tommy Armour III at the 2003 Valero Texas Open.
“The first priority is trying to take care of business this week,” Mickelson said after his round. “I want to make sure I take care of business first regarding the tournament, and those other records and so forth…try not to worry about those.”
It was difficult for anyone to make a real move on Mickelson during what is typically known as “moving day” on the PGA Tour, but Padraig Harrington managed to climb 17 spots on the leaderboard with a third-round score of 63, although Harrington still trails Mickelson by eight strokes heading into the final round.
Despite a comfortable six-stroke lead heading into the final round, Mickelson will be forced to keep his foot on the accelerator to keep the likes of Snedeker, Moore and Harrington at bay, as TPC Scottsdale has already yielded 17 rounds of 64 or lower.
“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.”
Snedeker, who has a propensity to go low in final rounds, is still somewhat within striking distance at 18-under par, six behind Mickelson.
“I definitely will be a lot more aggressive tomorrow than I normally am just because five under par is not going to do it,” Snedeker said. “I will have to go at some pins and make some putts early and be more aggressive than I probably normally would be.”
Harrington and Ryan Moore are not out of the event, but they will need some serious help from Mickelson if they have any hope of erasing an eight-stroke deficit over the final 18 holes of the tournament.
The rest of the field will be simply jockeying for FedEx Cup points and a larger piece of the $6.2 million purse on Sunday afternoon at TPC Scottsdale.
Starting with Bo Van Pelt’s 59 during the pro-am, this entire week has been a long shootout at TPC Scottsdale…only it has appeared as if Mickelson has been fighting with a sophisticated arsenal of weapons, while the rest of the field has been trying to catch him with 19th-century pistols.