On an afternoon when his challengers found no shortage of birdies, Phil Mickelson manufactured more than his share and saw his lead at the Waste Management Phoenix Open balloon to six shots as a result.
After a blemish on the home hole cost him a share of the tournament's 36-hole scoring record yesterday, Mickelson bounced back with a birdie on the 18th Saturday - his fourth in a row to close out the round - to fire a 7-under 64. At 24-under 189, Mickelson tied the event's lowest 54-hole mark set by Mark Calcavecchia a dozen years ago, and was only one shot above Steve Stricker's all-time PGA Tour record of 188.
Lefty leads by six over reigning FedEx Cup champion Brandt Snedeker, who fired a bogey-free, 6-under 65 Saturday only to find that by day's end, he had lost ground on the leader. Padraig Harrington, who carded the day's low round with an 8-under 63, sits alongside Ryan Moore in third place at 16 under, a whopping eight shots off the pace.
While Mickelson appears destined for his 41st career PGA Tour win Sunday, he will still be in search of further history in Sunday's final round. A 6-under 65 will match the PGA Tour's all-time 72-hole scoring record, currently held by Tommy Armour III at the 2003 Valero Texas Open, while a 64 will set a new mark.
'The first priority is trying to take care of business this week,' he added after the 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.'
Playing with Mickelson in the final group, both Bill Haas and Keegan Bradley saw their names tumble down the leaderboard when the birdies refused to drop. Haas fell back into a tie for sixth at 14 under after a round of 1-under 71, while bogeys on four of the last six holes dropped Bradley into a tie for 26th following a 2-over 73 Saturday.