A day after coming within a horse-shoed putt of notching the sixth 59 in PGA Tour history, Mickelson entered the par-4 18th at TPC Scottsdale's Stadium Course on Friday needing a par to break the tour's 36-hole scoring mark of 124.
But again history eluded the lefty, as he found the water off the tee and failed to reach the green with his approach. Needing to hole out for the record, Mickelson sent his chip past the cup and two-putted to close with a 6-under 65.
"Hopefully it'll help me refocus for tomorrow's round and come out and shoot something low," said Mickelson.
Despite another disappointing finish, Mickelson still holds a 4-stroke lead at 17-under 125. Bill Haas shot a 64 to move into second place at 13-under, while Keegan Bradley charged into a share of third with a 63. He is joined by 2012 FedExCup champion Brandt Snedeker (66) at minus-12.
Humana Challenge winner Brian Gay (66), Angel Cabrera (65) and Charlie Wi (63) are tied for fifth at 11-under, while Robert Garrigus (66), Ryan Moore (66), John Rollins (66), Matt Every (67), David Hearn (65) and Troy Matteson (65) are knotted at 10-under.
Defending champion Kyle Stanley survived the cut at 4-under, but world No. 10 Jason Dufner (-3), Rickie Fowler (-3), 2012 Rookie of the Year John Huh (-1) and European Ryder Cup hero Martin Kaymer (even) were among those who failed to qualify. Dufner had made the cut in a PGA Tour-leading 22 straight appearances.
Bradley equaled his PGA Tour career-low round on Friday, notching seven birdies and an eagle against a bogey to briefly move ahead of Mickelson at 12- under.
Mickelson was even through two holes when his Ryder Cup partner entered the clubhouse with a 1-stroke edge. His stretch of pars continued until No. 7, where the overnight leader drained a 23-foot birdie putt to pull even.
From there, Mickelson set about re-establishing his margin, as he dropped his approach within a couple feet on No. 9 and tapped in for birdie, then kicked off a streak of three straight birdies with a 9-foot putt on the 11th. A short roll on No. 12 and a successful up-and-down from the rough on No. 13 capped the run.
But the lefty wasn't done.
On the par-5 15th, Mickelson sent his drive into the fairway, placed his second shot within four feet and drained the eagle putt before moving on to No. 16 and its raucous amphitheater.
He settled for par there, but drove the green on the par-4 17th and two-putted for birdie and a shot at history, which narrowly missed its mark at the last.
"I think it's very possible that's going to help me, because it's got me refocused that I cannot ease up on a single shot," continued Mickelson. "These guys are going to make a lot of birdies, and I've got to get after it and cannot make those kinds of mistakes."
NOTES: Mickelson won this tournament in 1996 and 2005 ... He and Zach Johnson are the only players in PGA Tour history to have shot 60 or better on more than one occasion ... The PGA Tour's 36-hole scoring mark of 124 is shared by David Toms and Pat Perez, who was disqualified on Friday for signing an incorrect card ... Ian Poulter now has the longest streak of consecutive cuts made at 16 ... Vijay Singh withdrew prior to the start of the first round. The 49-year-old Fijian has been the subject of scrutiny since he admitted to using deer antler spray, a product that includes a banned substance under the PGA Tour's Anti-Doping Policy. He cited a back injury as the reason for this withdrawal ... Davis Love III withdrew prior to the second round with a neck injury.