Snedeker takes one-stroke lead at Phoenix

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SCOTTSDALE, Arizona (Reuters) - American Brandt Snedeker birdied four of his last eight holes to surge to a one-stroke lead over compatriot Scott Piercy at the Phoenix Open Saturday.

Snedeker withstood windy conditions for a five-under 66 to put him at 14-under for a total 199 after three rounds at TPC Scottsdale.

"The back nine the wind kicked up and it was playing really tough," Snedeker told reporters. "But I played really good."

The 29-year-old birdied the 11th, 13th, 15th and 17th holes for the strong finish as he seeks his second PGA Tour victory.

"Made one mistake on 14 and was able to make a long putt to save bogey," Snedeker said. "Besides that, I'm rolling it great."

He also had birdies at his first and seventh holes.

Second round co-leaders Camilo Villegas and Mark Wilson were less successful.

Colombian Villegas needed birdies on his final two holes to finish at even par 71. He had four bogeys in the round to trail Every and Fowler by a stroke.

American Wilson shot a 72 to join a group of nine at 203 that includes three-time winner Mark Calcavecchia.

Calcavecchia birdied three of his four final holes to finish at four-under 67.

"Today was basically saved on the last two holes," said the 49-year-old Calcavecchia. "I made two 30-footers after making nothing the first 16 holes."

Two-time champion Phil Mickelson faded to 208 with a 72.

As usual a boisterous crowd of thousands greeted golfers at the par-three 16th.

"It was crazy," Snedeker said, "about as insane as I've seen it ... I'm glad I made par and got out of there before I got booed too bad."

"I love it," he said of the notorious hole.

"You've got to take it with a grain of salt and realize that golf needs that. We need people out here having fun, being excited about being at a golf tournament."

(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Salvo, North Carolina. Editing by Ian Ransom)