Levin increases Phoenix Open lead

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Spencer Levin remained in control in the Phoenix Open in front of the largest crowd in tournament history, shooting a 3-under 68 on Saturday to take a six-stroke lead into the final round.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Spencer Levin remained in control in the Phoenix Open in front of the largest crowd in tournament history, shooting a 3-under 68 on Saturday to take a six-stroke lead into the final round.

The crowd of 173,210 in perfect conditions at TPC Scottsdale’s Stadium Course broke the record of 170,802 set in the third round in 2008.

“It was fun for sure, but I was trying to focus, too,” Levin said about the huge crowd and party atmosphere. “You don’t get that too often, all those people cheering.”

Levin, five strokes ahead after the completion of the second round Saturday morning, had four birdies and a bogey to reach 17 under. The bogey on the par-5 15th was his first since the opening hole of the tournament.

“I felt like I played solid,” Levin said. “I felt like I was in control of my ball most of the day, and yeah, I’m pleased. I’ve never had a big lead like that starting the day, and I thought I played well. Overall, I’m pleased about it.”

Webb Simpson was 11 under after a 68. At No. 6 in the world, he’s the highest-ranked player in the field.

“I feel good, but my swing is just not really getting in sync,” Simpson said. “I’m missing the ball left and right. I want to polish that up. But I made a bunch of good swings down the stretch that gave me a lot of confidence.”

The 27-year-old Levin, remembered for a hole-in-one and 13th-place tie in the 2004 U.S. Open at Shinnecock while still in school at New Mexico, is winless on the PGA Tour. He came close last year, losing a playoff to Johnson Wagner in the Mayakoba Golf Classic. Last week at Torrey Pines, Levin had a share of the first-round lead after a 62, but followed with rounds of 76, 73 and 72 to tie for 43rd.

“Hopefully, I can just stay calm, try my best and keep having fun,” Levin said. “I’m going to try my best. That’s all I’m going to do, and we’ll see what happens.”

Bubba Watson was seven strokes behind Levin after a 67.

“He’s playing so good, you don’t expect him to come back in the field,” Watson said. “You’re going to have to go chase him down.”

Tour rookie John Huh also was 10 under after a 69.

David Hearn of Brantford, Ont., shot a 73 to tie for 44th, while Graham DeLaet of Weyburn, Sask., (72) was tied for 51st.

Kyle Stanley was eight strokes back after a 69 as he tries to rebound from a devastating loss. On Sunday at Torrey Pines, he made a triple-bogey 8 on the final hole of regulation and lost to Brandt Snedeker in a playoff.

Jason Dufner, second last year after a playoff loss to Mark Wilson, shot a 68 to join Stanley, Chris Stroud (66), Greg Chalmers (67) and Ben Crane at 9 under.

Fan favourite Phil Mickelson was 8 under after a 67. The former Arizona State star won the tournament in 1996 and 2005.

“I’d like to be further up, but given where I was 27 holes ago, I’m in a really good spot,” Mickelson said. “I’m starting to play some good golf, and I’m starting to get a little bit of momentum. I feel great with the putter.”