Mallinger maintains lead over Blixt at


John Mallinger fired a 1-under 70 Saturday to take a two-shot lead over Jonas Blixt into the final round of the Open.

Mallinger carded three birdies against two bogeys as he closes in on his first career PGA Tour victory. A runner-up earlier this year at the Humana Challenge, he took only 28 putts Saturday at CordeValle as he continues to lead the field this week in putts per round.

Blixt closed with four birdies on his final six holes to record a 5-under 66 as he continues his push for Rookie of the Year consideration. The Swede will be playing in the final group Sunday for the second consecutive week, coming off a third-place finish in Las Vegas and seeking his fifth top-10 finish in his last nine starts.

A pair of Tour veterans looking to break winless droughts also played their way into contention on Saturday. Charles Howell III carded a 5-under 66 and begins the final round tied for third, three shots behind Mallinger, looking for his first Tour win since 2007. Winless on Tour since 2008, Vijay Singh posted a 66 for the second consecutive day and will begin play on Sunday at 11 under, four shots behind the leader.

Hoping to secure full-time status on the PGA Tour for 2013, European Ryder Cup hero Nicolas Colsaerts fell back with an eventful even-par 71 Saturday. The Belgian's tumultuous round included six birdies, four bogeys and a double bogey as Colsaerts completed a stretch of eight holes in the middle of his round without a par. He enters the final round amid a large group tied for 12th at 9 under, six shots behind Mallinger.

Sunday's victor will likely step into the winner's circle for the first time on Tour in several years – if ever. Of the 11 players beginning the final round within five shots of the lead, eight will be in search of their first career Tour win and only one player – Jhonattan Vegas – has hoisted a trophy in the last four years.