Christian PetersenSCOTTSDALE, AZ – FEBRUARY 04: Byeong Hun An of Korea plays a tee shot on the second hole during the third round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale on February 4, 2017 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Eight years ago, Byeong Hun An became the youngest winner of the U.S. Amateur at age 17. Two years ago, he won the European Tour’s flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship, for his biggest professional victory.
Sunday at TPC Scottsdale, he will be looking for his first win on the PGA Tour.
The 25-year-old South Korean shot a bogey-free six-under 65 Saturday in front of a record crowd of 204, 906 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he has a one-shot lead over Martin Laird with one round to go.
“My confidence is up there with my iron game, ” said An, who has made just one bogey through 54 holes this week. “As long as I drive it well [Sunday] and play safe, I think I have a good chance. That’s my goal [Sunday] again, is just bogey-free.”
Even so, that still might not be enough.
Four others are tied for third four strokes back at 12 under, including defending champion Hideki Matsuyama, and another five players are 11 under. Five more, including Phil Mickelson, are another stroke back.
“[My putter] actually felt off the first couple of weeks, but now it feels on, ” said Mickelson, who needed just 26 putts Saturday en route to a 65. “I’m starting to really putt well.”
He wasn’t the only one. Soft greens and pristine, windless conditions led to a dozen players shooting 65 or better in the third round.
Jordan Spieth wasn’t one of them. The 23-year-old former world No. 1 made a half-dozen birdies but had two bogeys, including on his opening hole after driving into trouble and having to take a drop. He shot 67 and is eight strokes off the lead.