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An leads Phoenix Open as big names Matsuyama, Mickelson among chasers

SCOTTSDALE, AZ – FEBRUARY 04: Hideki Matsuyama of Japan plays his tee shot on the 11th hole during the third round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale on February 4, 2017 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
SCOTTSDALE, AZ – FEBRUARY 04: Hideki Matsuyama of Japan plays his tee shot on the 11th hole during the third round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale on February 4, 2017 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Byeong-hun An has the lead through three rounds of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, but a slew of top-tier challengers are in pursuit.

An, who won the 2015 BMW PGA Championship on the European Tour but lacks a win on the PGA Tour, shot a bogey-free, 6-under 65 to take a one-shot lead over Martin Laird at 16-under 197.

“Bogey-free again today. I think that was pretty big,” An said. “I don’t care how many shots’ lead I have in the final round, I’m just happy with today’s round. My goal will be bogey-free again and just play smart.”

An is four clear of a quartet of players at 12 under, including defending champion Hideki Matsuyama, John Peterson, Graham DeLaet and Michael Kim — with the latter three seeking their first PGA Tour wins.

Peterson, who turned pro as a heralded amateur and admitted he’s disappointed himself as a pro, rocketed up the leaderboard with a tournament-best 63.

“I got on a little bit of a heater there and really wasn’t in jeopardy of making bogey after that,” Peterson said. “It was a lot of good ball-striking and I made a couple good putts, too.”

Phil Mickelson sits six shots back of the lead at 10 under par. As usual, Mickelson was optimistic about his under-the-radar position.

“I’m in a good spot,” Mickelson said. “I’m in a spot where nobody’s really looking at me. I’m far enough back, but I am within striking distance.”

An, who said the course suits his eye, doesn’t have a lot of winning experience to draw upon, so he’s going to use his breakthrough in the European Tour’s flagship event.

“I have done it at the BMW,” he said. “It’s totally different golf course, but the fact that I did it before, won it before, I think that probably will help me a lot.”


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.