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Originally published March 29, 2014 at 7:35 PM | Page modified March 29, 2014 at 7:42 PM

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Early chip-ins help Steven Bowditch calm his nerves at Texas Open

Australian ranked No. 339 in the world takes a three-shot lead into final round


The Associated Press

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SAN ANTONIO — Steven Bowditch opened a three-stroke lead Saturday in the Texas Open in his attempt for his first victory on the PGA Tour.

Bowditch, the 30-year-old Australian, shot a 4-under 68 to reach 12 under at TPC San Antonio. Matt Kuchar and Andrew Loupe were tied for second. Kuchar shot 65, and Loupe had a 70.

“I’ve won four or five times on between Australia and Web.com,” said Bowditch, who would get into the Masters with a victory. “I’ve got a little experience, but not a great deal, especially at this level. I’ve never slept on a lead, so we’ll see how we go.”

Bowditch, ranked 339th in the world, chipped in on the first two holes, for birdie at No. 1 and an eagle at the par-5 second. He drove to chipping distance at the 338-yard fifth hole and made a 4-foot birdie putt.

“(The chip on the first hole) calmed my nerves a little bit,” Bowditch said. “It was as easy a chip as you’re going to have out here.”

Kuchar, a six-time winner, had the best round of the week. He holed out the greenside bunker on No. 1.

“Still surprised to be at 7 under today,” Kuchar said. “It’s not a score I would have thought was out there with these sort of (windy) conditions.”

Michael Putnam, of University Place, had a 73 and is tied for 30th at even par. Richard H. Lee, a former Washington Husky, is tied for 64th after a 73 for a 4-over 220. Alex Prugh, another former Husky, had a 77 for a 5-over 221 and did not make the cut to play the final day, but will earn a paycheck this week.

Mickelson pulls out

SAN ANTONIO — Phil Mickelson withdrew from the Texas Open after pulling a muscle in his right side teeing off on his 10th hole in the third round.

“I pulled a muscle on my downswing trying to hit it hard,” Mickelson said in a statement. “It just killed and it wouldn’t subside for 10 or 12 seconds. I’m going back to San Diego (for) a couple of days and have a doctor look at it, but there’s really not much you can do for a pulled muscle. I hope I’ll be OK to play the Shell in Houston, but I just don’t know.”

Mickelson was 1 over in the round and 4 over overall when the three-time Masters champion was taken off the course in a cart. His caddie, Jim Mackay, said Mickelson felt a twinge on his tee shot on No. 1 — his 10th hole — and that the pain wasn’t going away.

“It’s definitely not his back,” Mackay said. “It’s his right side. The thing he had been talking about is how good his back had been feeling here. He’ll definitely play Houston, if he can.”

NOTES

Cristie Kerr made a 55-foot par-saving putt after hitting her final approach into the water, giving her a share of the lead with Lizette Salas after the third round of the LPGA Tour’s Kia Classic in Carlsbad, Calif. Kerr finished with a 2-under 70 to match Salas (69) at 10-under 206.

• Asia staged an improbable comeback on the final day of the EurAsia Cup in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, picking up seven of 10 points available in singles to level the score at 10-10. Asia, trailing 7-3 going into the final day, briefly took the lead at 9½-8½ before Joost Luiten beat Koumei Oda 1-up to pull the Europeans level. The final match between Asia’s Hideto Tanihara and Europe’s Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano then finished all square.



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