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Haskins Regains Inland Empire Lead

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Steve Haskins, the first-round leader who fired a course-record 62 on Thursday, posted a third-round, 6-under-par 66 Saturday to grab the 54-hole lead at the Buy.Com Inland Empire Open. His total of 18-under-par 198 put him one shot ahead of Jeff Gove, Rod Pampling and D.A. Points.
 
Eric Meeks (66), Jeff Sanday (66), Kevin Pendley (68) and Bobby Gage (68) share fifth at minus-16.
 
Haskins made his move at the start of the back nine Saturday. He holed a 20-footer for birdie at No. 10 and followed with a four-footer at the next. Haskins drained a 10-foot birdie at the 12th to give him three in a row and take him to 16-under.
 
At the 14th, Haskins played a seven-iron to 30 feet to set up a birdie before parring the next two holes. He birdied the next par-three hole, the 17th, when he converted a 10-footer.
 
'On a course where there are a lot of birdies, it's important to take care of par,' said Haskins, who has suffered only one bogey so far this week. 'You can get behind the eight-ball if you make bogey.'
 
Haskins, the winner of the 36-hole, rain-shortened Ozarks Open in July, is currently 19th on the tour's money list and could use a victory this week to break into the top-15. The first 15 players in earnings after the season-ending Buy.Com Tour Championship move on to the PGA Tour.
 
Even though he is in the driver's seat, Haskins doesn't feel having the 54-hole lead is that important.
 
'Having the lead here isn't that big of a deal,' said Haskins. 'By the time I play tomorrow, I won't be the leader. You know there will be guys off to quick starts. There are so many players who can shoot a low score, if you hesitate, you will get passed by.'
 
Pampling had sole possession of first after seven birdies in his first 10 holes Saturday but struggled down the stretch, carding bogeys at 14 and 17.
 
'If I'm in this position, then I am thinking about this tournament ' said Pampling, who posted a five-under 67. 'It's there to win.'
 
Gove had the lowest round of the day on Friday with an 8-under 64 and he followed with a 65 in round three.
 
Points, one of two overnight co-leaders, rallied from two early bogeys to post a 4-under 68. Danny Briggs, the other second-round leader, struggled to a 1-under 71.
 
Brad Klapprott enjoyed the day's best round with a 9-under 63. He finished tied for ninth with Mark Wurtz, Pete Morgan, Chad Wright and Richard Zokol at minus-15.