Bowditch leads Texas Open; Mickelson withdraws

The Sports NetworkMarch 28, 2014 

San Antonio, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Steven Bowditch scrambled for a 4-under 68 on Saturday and that helped him extend his lead to three strokes after three rounds of the Texas Open.

Bowditch, who is looking for his first PGA Tour title, ended 54 holes at 12- under-par 204.

Matt Kuchar fired a 7-under 65, the low round of the day, and jumped into a share of second at minus-9. He was joined there by Andrew Loupe, who bogeyed the last for a 2-under 70 at TPC San Antonio.

Phil Mickelson, who was playing this event for the first time in over 20 years, withdrew after 10 holes on Saturday. Mickelson hurt an oblique muscle when he teed off No. 1, his 10th hole of round three. He finished that hole before pulling out.

"My back's feeling great, my body's been feeling great. I felt as good as I have all year. My speed is back, I was hitting the ball hard, driving it great," Mickelson said in a statement. "I pulled a muscle on my downswing trying to hit the ball hard on the first hole. It just killed and it wouldn't subside for 10 or 12 seconds. 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. I hope I'll be OK to play the Shell in Houston, but I just don't know."

Bowditch led by one to start the round, and quickly pushed that to three. He chipped in for birdie on the first, then chipped in for eagle on the second. Loupe birdied the second to stay within three.

"It was a pretty simple sort of chip, and the one on the second, I was just trying to get around the hole and it dropped in," Bowditch said. "Didn't give myself many opportunities after that."

After a pair of pars, Bowditch rolled in a 5-footer for birdie to extend his lead to four. At the ninth, he chipped to seven feet and was unable to convert his par putt.

That bogey trimmed is lead to three. Bowditch started the back nine with seven consecutive pars.

Bowditch drove just in front of the 17th green and chipped within two feet of the hole. He kicked that in to push his lead back to three, and that is where it ended as he parred the last.

Loupe parred four in a row after his birdie on the second. He stuffed his tee shot three feet from the hole on the par-3 seventh and knocked that in for birdie.

The tour rookie gave that shot back at the ninth, where he played his third to 14 feet and 2-putted for bogey.

Loupe rolled in a 25-footer for birdie on the par-3 13th and followed with a 7-foot birdie effort on the 14th to get within one of Bowditch's lead. Loupe missed the green at the par-3 16th and that led to a bogey. He recovered that stroke with a birdie at 17, but he stumbled to a bogey at the last to end three back.

Kuchar flew up the leaderboard as he birdied four of the first five holes to jump to 6-under. He also birdied the seventh before carding four pars in a row from the eighth.

The reigning Memorial champion traded a birdie for a bogey from the 12th. Kuchar closed out his round with birdies on 17 and 18 to end three back.

"My game is in really good shape. I'm very pleased with the way I'm hitting the ball," Kuchar said. "I scored better today. I felt like the first two days, I left a number of shots out there."

Pat Perez (69) is alone in fourth at 8-under 208. Kevin Na also shot 69 and is one stroke back at minus-7.

Chad Collins (73) and Daniel Summerhays (70) share sixth place at 6-under 210, while Will MacKenzie (70), Ryan Palmer (68) and Zach Johnson (70) are tied for eighth at minus-5.

NOTES: Bowditch hit just 8-of-18 greens in regulation in the third round, and he's hit 34-of-54 for the week ... This is Bowditch's first 54-hole lead ... Morgan Hoffmann also withdrew on Saturday ... There was a secondary cut that trimmed nine players from the field and left 71 players in the field for the final round.

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