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Marino holds slim lead at Pebble Beach

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2007 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-AmPEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Thousands of fans came to Pebble Beach for sunshine, scenery and celebrity entertainment. The leaders were somewhere else Saturday in the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

Far away from the commotion, Steve Marino struggled with the speed of the greens on the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula and ended his round with a three-putt bogey from 4 feet for a 1-over 71.

That still was enough for him to take a one-shot lead going into the final round over Jimmy Walker, who had a 63 at Monterey Peninsula, and Bryce Molder, who counted about a dozen people in his gallery at Spyglass Hill on his way to a 68.

Next up is the final round at Pebble Beach, where some measure of normalcy returns to his PGA Tour.

But not entirely.

D.A. Points was among the few players atop the leaderboard who was at Pebble Beach in the third round, and he was getting plenty of attention – or maybe that was for his amateur partner, Bill Murray, decked out in an Elmer Fudd hat.

Points took a double bogey by going over the cliffs on the ninth hole, birdied the 16th and 17th and was poised to take a share of the lead until he couldn’t get out of a fairway bunker on the 18th and wound up with a bogey.

That gave him a 71, putting him two shots out of the lead.

His pro-am team is only one shot behind, meaning Murray gets another crack at Pebble on Sunday.

Marino has been in the final group on the PGA Tour before. He’s never had the assistant head greenskeeper at Bushwood playing in the group ahead of him.

Could he imagine trying to win on the PGA Tour for the first time with Murray in his group?

“That would have been a trip,” Marino said. “I don’t know about that.”

Murray has as many tour victories as the top four players on the leaderboard, which would be none.

Marino, who was at 12-under 202, might be the most tested, having lost in a playoff at Colonial a year ago and finishing with one of the best shots of the young season at the Sony Open last month in Honolulu to finish second.

He is not too bothered by a round that featured a trio of three-putt bogeys, an unplayable lie from a bush and an eagle. Marino said he hit the ball better than he has all week, but could not get used to the pace on the Shore’s greens.

“A strange round,” he said.

Alex Cejka and Tom Gillis were at 9-under 205, while the group another shot back included J.J. Henry, Kevin Sutherland and Aaron Baddeley. They were the only players in the top 10 who have won on tour.

Molder has some experience being in contention, although he is trying to bury part of that memory. A year ago at Pebble Beach, he was closing in on the lead when he took a quintuple-bogey 9 on the 14th hole. Two other players also made 9 on that hole, which is quickly growing a reputation as one of the toughest par 5s on tour without a water hazard.

“I don’t remember what you’re talking about,” Molder said with a grin. “You know, all you can do is laugh. I got there this year (on Thursday) and made a mess of it, had a good up-and-down for bogey.”

Phil Mickelson moved into contention for a fourth title at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am by making three birdies over his final five holes for a 69. That moved him to 7-under 207, only five shots back going into the final round.

“I thought that the round could have been a lot better, but toward the end … I probably got as much out of the round as I could have,” Mickelson said. “But throughout the course of the day, I had many opportunities to go low and I didn’t take advantage of them. I’ve got to go really low tomorrow to give myself a chance.”

It might help that he doesn’t have a lot of experience ahead of him.

Marino isn’t sure that matters.

“All these guys are good,” he said. “Everybody is going to get their experience somewhere, and for some people, it might be tomorrow.”

It figures to be crowded Sunday, inside and outside the ropes.

Because the top 20 pro-am teams play the final round, the cut is top 60 and ties. However, 73 players finished at 2-under 212. That includes two-time defending champion Dustin Johnson, who had to make a 3-foot par putt on the 18th at Pebble to make the cut.

David Duval opened his tournament with no birdies and a 77 at Pebble Beach, but he rallies with rounds of 65 and 70 to make it on the number. Perhaps even more impressive was Jeff Maggert, who opened with 75-74 and shot 62 at Monterey Peninsula.

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