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Spencer Levin tightened his grip on the Waste Management Phoenix Open, with the American moving six shots clear of Webb Simpson.

Levin started the day five shots ahead of the field and despite a couple of hiccups on the back nine at Scottsdale, he extended that lead by one by moving to 17-under.

After knocking in birdies on three and four, Levin looked a little shaky coming home and paid price for finding water off the tee on 15 as he walked off the green with a bogey six.

The door had been left ajar for Simpson but he found water on the criminally tough 17th. Event organisers opted to place the flag towards the back of the green and the construction of the hole meant any chip that went beyond the flag would dribble into the water. Simpson played what he thought was a good chip. It did look like a good chip, but he saw it slide past the hole and into the water. He got up and down for a bogey and a par on 18 left him on 11-under.

Levin took the tough second-shot chip out of the equation on 17 by hitting driver and blasting the ball into the greenside bunker and for the second day in a row he got up and down for a birdie – allowing him to sign for a 68.

Bubba Watson played some sparkling golf in his round of 67, but it could have been so much better as he missed a string of makeable putts with what looked a decidedly shaky stroke. He is still in contention at 10-under alongside John Huh.

Phil Mickelson found some good form following an indifferent day in round two, with the left hander carding a 67. Mickelson sprayed the ball to all parts of Arizona on Friday, but was far more consistent as he moved to eight-under.

“I flew Butch (Harmon, coach) in this morning as the front nine shook me up yesterday,” Mickelson said. “We had a good session, I felt more confident out there.”

Looking towards Sunday’s final round, Mickelson said: “Out here what will happen is if you start making mistakes it is tough to turn it around as there is water and trouble everywhere. If I get a hot hand you never know what might happen.”

John Rollins was the big mover as he stormed up the field to eight-under thanks to a superb 65, while Chris Stroud signed for a 66 to climb to nine-under.

Rickie Fowler failed to find any momentum on moving day, signing for a 71 to remain at four-under, while Ian Poulter went round in 70 shots to move to two-under for the tournament.

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