SAN MARTIN, Calif. — John Mallinger remained in position for his first PGA Tour victory, shooting a 1-under 70 on Saturday in the Frys.com Open to take a two-stroke lead into the final round.
The 33-year-old Mallinger had a 15-under 198 total at CordeValle after opening with a 66 and matching the course record with a 62 on Friday.
“I just didn’t have it all. I didn’t drive it as well as I did yesterday,” Mallinger said. “I think I hit every fairway yesterday, and then today I just got off to a weird start. But I hung around there and made some birdies on the back nine that got me back into position. Still got lead, still got a good spot, and look forward to tomorrow.”
He has finished second twice in his seven-year career on the tour, losing in a playoff to Bo Van Pelt in Milwaukee in 2009. Mallinger had the third-round lead for the second time in his career. He shared the lead at the 2009 Byron Nelson Championship and ended up tying for sixth.
“I’m going to still stay aggressive and try to make as many birdies as possible,” Mallinger said. “It’s going to be a birdie day. I mean, it’s supposed to be nice tomorrow.”
Sweden’s Jonas Blixt was second after a 66. He birdied five of the last eight holes.
“The front nine is a little harder,” said Blixt, coming off a third-place finish last week in Las Vegas. “The back nine you can make a couple birdies. Hopefully, I can finish like I did today.
He had a simple game plan for Sunday.
“Make birdies,” Blixt said.
Charles Howell III and Jason Kokrak were 12 under. Howell had a 66, and Kokrak shot 67.
“It’ll be a shootout tomorrow,” Howell said. “The greens are so soft and there will be a lot of birdies, but at least I have a chance.”
He won the last of two tour titles in 2007.
Choi protects 2-shot lead: at LPGA Malaysia: In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, defending champion Na Yeon Choi maintained a two-shot lead in the LPGA Malaysia, shooting a 3-under 68 on Saturday in the rain-interrupted third round.
The South Korean player had a 13-under 200 total after opening with rounds of 65 and 67 at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.
“Actually, honestly, I don’t like leading, that feeling. I like chasing better,” Choi said. “But like today, I think I played too much safely. So tomorrow, I’m not going to think about my score, even two-shot lead. I just go out there with a general score and play my game. I want to play lower than any day.”
She birdied the first hole before play was delayed for more than four hours because of lightning and rain, and finished with four birdies and a lone bogey on the 10th hole. For the third time in two years, the lights at course were turned on to help players finish.
“I think I had a pretty hard time today,” Choi said. “It was raining all day. That’s why I play so long. We wake up like 12 hours ago and that’s a pretty long day. I have to focus on my game, play my game, just play one shot at a time. I think that’s my goal tomorrow.”
She won the U.S. Women’s Open in July for her first major title and sixth LPGA Tour victory.
South Korea’s Inbee Park, the tour money leader, was second after a 65.
“I think I played much better in the rain than hot,” Park said. “The front nine was a little bit disappointing but I just knew the birdies would come out. I just tried to trust myself.
“I think I still need a lot of birdies tomorrow to win. I’ll just go out there and play aggressive and try to get myself a lot of birdies.”
Australia’s Karrie Webb was four strokes back after a 68.
Fred Funk leads Greater Hickory Classic: In Conover, N.C., Fred Funk took a one-stroke lead over Larry Mize in the Greater Hickory Classic on Saturday, shooting his second straight bogey-free 6-under 66.
“I really jump-started my round with a save on No. 2,” Funk said. “I drove it into the bunker and had to wedge it out for par. Then I made a 30-footer (putt) on the next hole (for birdie), and that got me going.”
The winner at The Woodlands in Texas in May for his seventh Champions Tour title, Funk has gone 42 holes without a bogey since the 13th hole Sunday in the final round of the SAS Championship in Cary, N.C.
The 54-year-old Mize, a former Masters champion whose lone Champions Tour win came in 2010 in the Montreal Championship shot a 67.
Defending champion Mark Wiebe, Chip Beck and Duffy Waldorf were four strokes back at 8 under. Beck and Waldorf shot 67, and Wiebe had a 69.
Wiesberger leads Portugal Masters: In Vilamoura, Portugal, Bernd Wiesberger of Austria birdied six of seven holes in one stretch Saturday, finishing with a 6-under 65 for a one-stroke lead after three rounds at the Portugal Masters.
Wiesberger, who started his birdie run at No. 8, was at 13-under 200. He was followed by England’s Ross Fisher, who began the day in the lead and finished with a 69.
Ireland’s Shane Lowry (67), England’s Richard Finch (66) and New Zealand’s Michael Campbell (67) were four strokes behind the leader at Oceanico Victoria Golf Course.
Fisher played with a strained ligament in his left foot that he injured Friday.
“It was heavily bandaged and I tried to take the weight off it as much as I could,” he said.
Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez (68) and England’s Mark Foster (67) were at 205.