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Fun Round Gives Jacobs Tradition Lead

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John Jacobs stood on the 15th tee of the Prospector Course at Superstition Mountain Golf & Country Club Saturday and said, Golf is fun when you make birdies.
 
An obvious statement, but an appropriate one in the third round at The Countrywide Tradition.
 
Jacobs needed just 22 putts in shooting the score of the day and grabbing the outright lead entering the final round of the Senior Tours first major of the season.
 
Jacobs carded six birdies and no bogeys for a 66. He stands at 10-under-par 206, one shot clear of Jim Thorpe.
 
I didnt know I didnt have any bogeys, Jacobs said, before adding with a laugh, You know I finally figured out how to play this game.
 
If birdies make golf fun, then eagles must make the game a downright hoot. Trailing by three, Thorpe holed his bunker shot from 30 feet for a 3 on the par-5 18th to cut his deficit to a single stroke.
 
'Win, lose or draw, we're going to Vegas tomorrow,' Thorpe said as he high-fived good friend and fellow good-time-guy Jacobs after the third round.
 
The 57-year-old Jacobs won this years Royal Caribbean Classic, which was reduced to 36 holes due to inclement weather, for his fourth career tour title. He still, however, is seeking that elusive first major.
 
Jacobs, who joined the tour full time in 1996, has seven top-10 finishes in major championships ' three in this event.
 
Saturday, he made a strong bid to finally finish first.
 
Jacobs started the day three shots back of a trio of overnight leaders: Thorpe, Bob Gilder and Bob Eastwood. Gilder shot 1-under 71, and is two back at minus 8. Eastwood fell seven off the pace with a 76.
 
Ironically, Jacobs, who has won several long-driving contests throughout the world, played the par-5s in just 1-under Saturday. Instead, he used his length to his advantage on the par-4s, blasting tee shots and hitting short-irons into the greens on the 7,228-yard venue.
 
He started his ascent up the leaderboard with a birdie at the par-3 fourth and posted two more red numbers, on the par-4 fifth and ninth holes, before making the turn.
 
On the shorter back side, Jacobs did all his scoring midway through the nine. He hit a wonderfully delicate pitch shot from right of the green to within four feet of the hole on the par-5 13th and converted the birdie putt; nearly drove the green on the par-4 14th and made a five-footer; and stuck an approach shot from inside 90 yards to two feet on the par-4 15th.
 
I know its better for me to hit wedges from the rough than to be hitting 5-iron from the fairway, like other guys, said Jacobs, who hit only seven of 14 fairways on the day.
 
Jacobs played the first two rounds alongside course designer Jack Nicklaus. The four-time Tradition winner, who is making his first official Senior start since July due to an ailing back, struggled to a 9-over 81 in the third round to fall to 9-over for the event.
 
'I'm just worn out. I couldn't make anything happen,' said the 62-year-old Nicklaus. 'It wasn't that my back hurt that much. I was just tired.'
 
Full-field scores from The Countrywide Tradition