Napa, Calif. — Brandt Snedeker birdied the final three holes Saturday to take a three-stroke lead into the final round of the PGA Tour’s season-opening Safeway Open.
Snedeker finished with a 3-under 69 in windy conditions to get to 16-under 200 on the North Course at Silverado Resort and Spa.
“I’m really proud of the way I stepped up there and hit some quality shots when I needed to,” Snedeker said. “I made some birdies and gave me a little bit of cushion for tomorrow, which will be really important because tomorrow’s supposed to be tougher than today, so every shot is really important coming down the stretch.”
He won the Wyndham Championship in August, opening with a 59 en route to his ninth PGA Tour title.
“It was a tough day, the wind kicked up the last 12 or 13 holes,” Snedeker said. “I just did a great job of staying patient knowing the last three holes were birdies holes.”
Kevin Tway was second after a 68.
“It was a tough day, the wind picked up,” said Tway, who had a bogey-free round with four birdies. “I kept the ball in play nicely. I made a nice save on 14 and that was my only real bad shot.”
Sungjae Im (69) was 12 under, and Bill Haas (67) followed at 11 under.
“I hit some nice quality shots coming down the stretch with the two par 5s,” Haas said. “I saw it (the wind) is to supposed to blow, and be even more difficult than today. But I am very pleased with my back nine; I hit some nice shots.”
Phil Mickelson, tied for second entering the round, had a 74 to drop into a tie for 15th at 8 under.
Fred Couples also was 8 under after a 70 in his final regular PGA Tour start. The 59-year-old Hall of Famer played the first two rounds with Snedeker, shooting a 65 on Friday.
“I played pretty well,” said Couples, who eagled the ninth hole. “On the front, there were a couple of birdie opportunities, but when I made the turn, the wind started to pick up and I hit a couple of good shots on 10 and 11.”
Brian Stuard (Jackson) shot a 73 and was tied for 66th at 3 under.
Strong winds and heavy rain from Typhoon Kong-rey hit the Korean peninsula, ensuring that there would be no play on day three of the eight-nation UL International Crown event in Incheon, South Korea.
The defending champion United States led Pool B at the end of the second round with six points. Sweden is next with four points while Japan and Thailand have three each.
After three rounds of fourballs, the top two teams from each pool and one wild-card team will advance to the singles event. The team collecting the most points over the four days wins the title. Teams get two points for a win and one if the match is halved.
England leads Pool A with seven points, one ahead of top-seeded South Korea.
Round three is expected to resume on Sunday morning, weather permitting.
England's Tyrrell Hatton is on course to become the first golfer since Tiger Woods 11 years ago to win the same European Tour event three years running.
Hatton shot a 6-under 66 in the third round at St. Andrews, one of three courses being used at the Dunhill Links Championship, to open a one-stroke lead with a 14-under total of 202.
Marcus Fraser was his nearest challenger after a 67 at Kingsbarns.
Former Dunhill Links winner Stephen Gallacher (66) and Hatton’s European Ryder Cup teammate, Tommy Fleetwood (67), were in joint third place, two shots further back, on 11 under.
Fourteen-times major champion Woods was the last player to win the same European Tour event three successive times when, in 2007, he completed a hat trick of titles at the WGC-Championship and the WGC-Invitational.