Mickelson 6 shots up as record crowd watches at Phoenix
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, 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.
"I played for a 167-yard shot and tried to hit just a comfortable or stock 9-iron, and the ball ended up flying that far and released to the hole. Having played this course and that hole over the years and knowing what your body does and how to adjust to it has helped me, and certainly it did today."
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 in Arizona. 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-stroke lead over Brandt Snedeker.
"I know how good Snedeker is and how hot he can get with a putter," Mickelson said. "He can make birdie from just about anywhere. He's going to make a run tomorrow. I, hopefully, will be able to keep pace."
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 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.
"To me, the wire-to-wire isn't that important except for now I'm three rounds and the fourth one is kind of the more important one," Mickelson said. "It would be an important thing because it's meant so much to me over my career having won this tournament, coming back as a past champion, and 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."
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 PGA Tour titles 51 weeks ago at Pebble Beach.
■ Stephen Gallacher shot a 10-under 62 to take a three-shot lead at the Dubai Desert Classic and break a three-round scoring record set by Tiger Woods 12 years ago. The 111th-ranked Gallacher, who just missed out on a playoff last year in Dubai, is looking for his first European Tour win since 2004.
■ Sixteen-year-old Australian amateur Oh Su-hyun and 17-year-old Thai golfer Ariya Jutanugarn shared the second-round lead at the Australian Ladies Masters.
Rifle team defeats No. 1 West Virginia, wins regular-season conference title
Kentucky's third-ranked rifle team defeated No. 1 West Virginia at home on Saturday 4,704—4,695 to finish 6-0 in conference matchups and take the Great American Rifle Conference Regular Season Championship. It was Kentucky's sixth GARC regular-season title and third in as many years.
"They have worked incredibly hard to get to this point and I think this is a great way to enter into the post-season," Coach Harry Mullins said. "It's always exciting when you take home the regular-season title in a conference as competitive as the GARC."
■ Kentucky's swimming and diving teams cruised to wins against host Cincinnati in the final dual meet of the season in preparation for the Southeastern Conference Championships. The women won 158-116, while the men earned a 152-115 victory.
Kidd-Gilchrist injured in Bobcats' game
Charlotte rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had his neck immobilized and was taken to a Houston hospital Saturday night following a nasty fall and collision in the game at Houston.
Kidd-Gilchrist, the second overall pick in June's draft out of Kentucky, was attempting to block a drive by Houston guard Toney Douglas. He ended up on the floor near the basket, and his head appeared to collide with fellow rookie Jeff Taylor's knee.
Kidd-Gilchrist was on the floor for several minutes, holding his head in clear pain as medical staff from both teams attended to him. Finally he was placed in a neck brace and a stretcher wheeled him out to a waiting ambulance. Kidd-Gilchrist was taken to a nearby hospital for X-rays.
The Charlotte Observer reported that Coach Mike Dunlap said Kidd-Gilchrist was talking and moving his extremities when he left in the ambulance.
Fellow former Wildcat Patrick Patterson ended up being the star for the Rockets down the stretch. He scored 14 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter and Houston won 108-95.
■ Amare Stoudemire was 10-for-10 from the field for 21 points, and the New York Knicks unleashed a 38-4 run on Sacramento in the first half and clobbered the Kings 120-81. DeMarcus Cousins had 25 points and nine rebounds for the Kings.
Bryans drop Davis Cup doubles match
Brazil's doubles team of Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares upset the top-ranked Mike and Bob Bryan 7-6 (6), 6-7 (7), 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 and kept the United States from clinching the first-round Davis Cup match. It was only the third time the Bryan brothers had dropped a Davis Cup match. It was just the second time that they had dropped a five-set match in ATP competition. Their only other five-set defeat was in a 1999 match at Wimbledon.
The United States has a 2-1 advantage heading into Sunday's reverse singles at Jacksonville, Fla. The United States' John Isner faces Brazil's Thomaz Bellucci in the opening match. If Bellucci wins to even the score at 2-2, Sam Querrey of the United States and Brazil's Thiago Alves will meet in the deciding match.
Texas' Applewhite disciplined in 2009
Texas offensive coordinator Major Applewhite acknowledged Friday night that he was disciplined by the university for an inappropriate relationship with a student during the Longhorns' trip to play in the Fiesta Bowl after the 2008 season. In separate statements and a document released from Applewhite's personnel file, Applewhite and Athletics Director DeLoss Dodds said the former Texas quarterback had his pay frozen in 2009 and was ordered to undergo counseling. Applewhite also was warned that a repeat offense would have more serious consequences.
The last word
A 15-1 start, with the only loss coming against Duke, vaulted Minnesota's men's basketball team to No. 8 in The Associated Press poll, its highest ranking since March 1997. Coach Tubby Smith even grew a mustache for the first time in more than 20 years, as much a sign of the new-look Gophers as anything. Now the optimism has faded, crushed by consecutive Big Ten losses to Indiana, Michigan, Northwestern and Wisconsin. Minnesota (16-5, 4-4) broke the streak by beating Nebraska, 84-65, on Tuesday, but not before falling to 23rd in the latest AP poll. Smith's mustache is gone, too. He told The New York Times:
"It can get pretty ugly when you're not winning. No one's happy. Certainly I'm not happy, that's for sure. ... I thought we'd be a lot further along, but we've had a lot of issues we've had to deal with and a lot of injuries. They can blame it on whoever they want. That's my job. Who we had, who we didn't get, who we lost, that's all part of it."