SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – A desert critter saved leader Bubba Watson at least a stroke Saturday in the Phoenix Open. Some pigskin play cost Phil Mickelson to the chagrin of the rowdiest fans in the largest crowd in golf history.
The estimated 189,722 fans had a lot to see on a sunny, cool day at TPC Scottsdale.
Watson’s drive on the par-5 13th went into a desert bush and settled next to a burrowing animal hole that would have interfered with his swing. He got a free drop, ended up saving par on the way to a 3-under 68 and a two-stroke lead at 15 under.
Mickelson made a double bogey on the par-3 16th hole, the 20,000-seat stadium hole where he “lost focus” thinking about throwing footballs into the crowd. He had a 72 to drop to 3 under.
Canadian Graham DeLaet shot himself up the leaderboard with a 6-under 65. DeLaet, from Weyburn, Sask., is six shots off the pace at 9-under 204.
David Hearn of Brantford, Ont., shot a 73, and is 13 shots back at 211.