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Levin extends lead at Phoenix Open

Spencer Levin didn't have the kind of big performance he put together during his first two days at the Phoenix Open, but avoided big mistakes Saturday and emerged with a commanding lead.

Levin shot a three-under 68 during his third round at the TPC Scottsdale to move to 17-under-par 196. He had posted 65 and 63 for his first two rounds, and had only one bogey Saturday to protect his lead.

The 27-year-old is now on track for his first PGA Tour victory, six shots ahead of Webb Simpson, who made a run on the back nine. He threatened to get within three shots at one point, but just missed a long birdie putt at 16. An ill-timed bogey at No. 17 dropped Simpson further back, and he finished with a 68 to move to 11-under.

Bubba Watson (67) and John Huh (69) are tied for third, one shot behind Simpson.

Phil Mickelson carded a four-under 67 in Saturday's third round and is tied for 10th at minus-eight.

Harrison Frazar started the day within three shots of Levin, still having to play the final three holes of his second round -- frost delays on Thursday and Friday set the tournament back.

However, Frazar played his 21 holes in four-over par to slide down a leaderboard. He posted a 73 for his third round and sits in a tie for 12th at seven-under.

Saturday's round didn't feature much drama until the middle of the back nine.

Simpson and Levin, playing a group apart, both birdied the 13th and were separated by six shots when Simpson teed off at the par-five 15th.

Simpson moved down the fairway before placing his third shot within four feet of the hole, and made the birdie putt to get to 12-under.

Levin, on the other hand, drove his tee shot into the water. He still managed to create a chance to save par, but missed the 19-footer and tapped in for bogey, falling back to 16-under.

Simpson was up ahead at the par-three 16th, surrounded by raucous fans packing the grandstands, with a chance to draw within three strokes. He faced a 50- foot putt for birdie and nearly ran it home, but ended up with a short putt for par.

After Levin also parred No. 16, the momentum swung back in his favor.

Simpson's tee shot at the par-four 17th was just to the right of the green, but his second rolled past the pin, off the edge and into the water. Following his penalty stroke, Simpson made a tough six-foot putt just to limit his losses to a bogey.

Levin looked like he might follow with a bogey when he drove into a bunker to the back right edge of the green. But he blasted within three feet of the hole and sank the birdie putt to get to 17-under.

"Hit a decent drive on 15, just barely left, and if you get it barely left there, it just runs off," Levin said during a television interview. "That was kind of a hiccup there, but made a nice putt for par on 16 and birdied 17. Came back from that bogey good."

In contrast to the first two rounds -- when he had 13 birdies and one eagle -- Levin posted just four birdies Saturday. He played a mistake-free front nine, sinking a four-foot birdie putt at the third and draining a 16-footer at the fourth.

Simpson, a two-time winner last year, had mixed results during his front nine -- bogeys at the first and seventh, with three birdies in between. He made the turn at nine-under, then birdied the 11th to move another shot closer to Levin.

NOTES: Levin had gone 49 consecutive holes without a bogey before the 15th...He had never held a piece of the 54-hole lead in a PGA Tour event before Saturday...Jason Dufner, who lost to Mark Wilson in a playoff at last year's Phoenix Open, is in a group of five tied for fifth at minus-nine. Dufner shot a 68 Saturday, and is joined by Chris Stroud (66), Greg Chalmers (67), Ben Crane (68) and Kyle Stanley (69)...Many players wore green Saturday in support of the tournament's "Green Out," a promotion supporting the environmental efforts of the Phoenix Open's title sponsor, Waste Management...Saturday's attendance was 173,210, a new tournament record...Saturday would have been the 100th birthday of PGA legend Byron Nelson.