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Branshaw keeps lead in Viking Classic

MADISON, Miss. (AP) — David Branshaw shot a 3-under-par 69 Saturday to lead by two strokes after three rounds of the Viking Classic, with a crowd of 17 golfers within six shots of his 13 under going into the final day.

Bill Haas had a 70 and was in second place while Chad Campbell moved into contention with a 64 that left him three strokes behind at 10 under. He was tied with Shaun Micheel and Johnson Wagner, who both shot 68s.

Branshaw, Haas and Wagner are among seven golfers in the top 10 seeking their first PGA Tour victories, while Campbell and Micheel are trying to turn around their games.

Two-time champion Fred Funk led a group of nine that sat four back at 9 under and six others were 8 under and well in contention, something Branshaw said he is aware of but trying to ignore.

"You can't control what they're doing out there," Branshaw said. "All you can do is just do the best you can on every shot tomorrow. You can't play defense, you can't be too strong on offense. You can't throw any curveballs like all the other sports. You can't block anybody."

Branshaw took the lead Friday as most players struggled with changing course conditions at Annandale Golf Club, where frequent rain this week gave way to sunny skies and a persistent wind that dried the greens.

He made 11 straight pars Friday, then finished with two birdies for a 68. He opened the Classic with a 66. Branshaw, a 37-year-old golfer from Tampa, Fla., in his third full year on tour, had been bogey-free through 44 holes before making one at No. 9 Saturday. But he had four birdies on par-4 holes and again put together a string of pars, finishing his round with five straight.

Haas, the son of longtime PGA and Champions tours veteran Jay Haas, missed a 9-foot birdie putt at 17 that could have reduced Branshaw's lead. He had three bogeys but he made four birdies, including 13-foot putts on Nos. 2 and 11 and a 12-footer on No. 15.

Haas was 1-over on par 5s, usually the strength of his game.

"So if I can turn that into 3 under tomorrow, that might make the difference," Haas said.

Haas felt good about his position, but said Branshaw will have to falter to be vulnerable.

"David has to hold the lead and if he plays like he did today, he's going to," Haas said.

"He's a friend and I'm pulling for him because I like him."

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