John Mallinger is trying to win for the first time on the PGA Tour.
Robert Laberge/Getty Images
Sunday, October 14, 2012

SAN MARTIN, Calif. (AP) - John Mallinger remained in position for his first PGA Tour victory, shooting a 1-under 70 on Saturday in the 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.

Kokrak is in his first year on the tour after winning twice late last year on the Tour.

``This is the first time I put myself in really good position,'' Kokrak said. ``I just want to go out tomorrow and do the same things I did today.''

At 167th on the money list, he's in danger of losing his tour card.

Vijay Singh and Brazil's Alexandre Rocha were 11 under. They shot 66.

The 49-year-old Singh won the last of his 34 PGA Tour titles in 2008. He birdied Nos. 15 and 16, eagled the short par-4 17th and closed with a par.

\n``I found something in my putting that's working really, really good, so hopefully tomorrow I can get some going,'' Singh said. ``I've changed my grip a little bit and it's flowing really freely. So that's a big plus.''

\nBritish Open champion Ernie Els was 5 under after a 69.

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