Phil Mickelson drew the loudest cheers from the biggest crowd in golf history Saturday at the Phoenix Open.

Mickelson nearly aced the par-3 16th hole, hitting a 9-iron to a foot to set up a birdie on the rowdy stadium hole packed with nearly 20,000 screaming fans.

"What's funny about that is 172 yards is a very tough 9-iron for me to get there, but I immediately take 5 yards off and in my head I had 167," Mickelson said. "The reason is you always have a little bit of adrenaline here, and the ball goes a little bit longer on 16."

Estimated at 179,022, the third-round crowd broke the record of 173,210 set last year, also on a Saturday at fan-friendly TPC Scottsdale (Ariz.). The event has drawn 467,030 fans for the week and is in position to break the mark of 538,356 set in 2008.

Mickelson birdied the final four holes and five of the last six for a 7-under 64 and a six-shot lead over Brandt Snedeker (65).

The 42-year-old former Arizona State star has led after each round, opening with a 60 and shooting a 65 on Friday. He fell a stroke short of the PGA Tour record for the first 54 holes, and matched the tournament mark set by Mark Calcavecchia in 2001.

Making his 24th appearance in the event that he won in 1996 and 2005, Mickelson is trying to complete his third wire-to-wire victory and first since the 2006 BellSouth Classic -- a 13-stroke blowout the week before the second of his three Masters victories.

"Winning here in the town that has meant so much to me, to (wife) Amy and I, where we met, had our first two kids, went to college. It's a special place," Mickelson said.


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He's in position to match the tournament record of three victories set by Arnold Palmer and matched by Gene Littler and Calcavecchia. Mickelson won the last of his 40 tour titles 51 weeks ago at Pebble Beach.

The left-hander played the first 12 holes in 2 under, making a 20-foot birdie putt on the par-4 first and a 25-footer on the par-4 fifth. He got up and down from greenside bunkers for birdies on the par-5 13th and 15th holes, followed with the tap-in on 16, then chipped to 2 feet on the 337-yard 17th.

"My short game is what gave me that momentum," Mickelson said. "The bunker shots I hit on 13 and 15 were really good, as well as the chip on 17."

A day after making a double-bogey 6 on the 18th when he hit a 3-wood drive into the water on the left, Mickelson blasted driver over the water and hit close to the grandstand. He got a free drop, hit to 15 feet and holed the putt.

"I took a little different strategy after yesterday," Mickelson said.

European Tour: Stephen Gallacher shot a 10-under 62 to take a three-stroke lead at the Dubai Desert Classic in the United Arab Emirates and break a 54-hole scoring record set by Tiger Woods 12 years ago. Gallacher holed a 25-yard bunker shot on 18 for an eagle to finish at 21-under 195 in rare rainy conditions. That improved on Woods' tournament mark by a shot. Richard Sterne (66) was in second.

European Ladies Tour: Amateur Oh Su-hyun, 16, and Ariya Jutanugarn, 17, shared the second-round lead at the Australian Ladies Masters. Oh shot an 8-under 64 on Gold Coast's soggy Royal Pines course, and Ariya had a 65. They were at 10-under 134, a shot ahead of Stacey Keating (67) and defending champion Jessica Korda (68).