Australia’s Steven Bowditch scrambled for a four-under 68 on Saturday to stretch his lead to three strokes going into the final round of the US PGA Tour’s Texas Open.
Bowditch, who is seeking a first US tour title, had a 54-hole total of 12-under par 204.
He was three strokes in front of Americans Matt Kuchar and Andrew Loupe.
Kuchar fired a seven-under 65, the low round of the day, for 207. Loupe could have had sole possession of second place, but bogeyed his last hole for a two-under 70.
American Pat Perez was alone on 208 after a 69 and American Kevin Na’s 69 left him on 209.
Bowditch chipped in at the first two holes for a birdie and an eagle. He added two more birdies and just one bogey, at the par-four ninth, to build on his 36-hole lead.
Bowditch had never held the lead after a round in a PGA Tour event until last week. Now he is poised to strike for a victory that would earn him a trip to the Masters, where compatriot Adam Scott will be defending the title.
Meanwhile, five-time major champion Phil Mickelson got a Masters scare on Saturday, withdrawing after 10 holes saying he had pulled an oblique muscle on a tee shot.
“It just killed and it wouldn’t subside for 10 or 12 seconds,” said Mickelson, who was one-over for the day at the time, and wary of exacerbating the injury, with the first major of the year starting at Augusta National on April 10.
“I’m going to go back to San Diego for a couple of days and have a doctor take a look at it, but there’s really not much you can do for a pulled muscle,” Mickelson said, adding that he did not know if he would be able to start as planned next week at the Houston Open.