BLAINE, Minn. – Early in the day, the course played much like it did Friday when 53 of 80 players broke par by firing right at the flags. However, the wind began to pick up as the final groups began their rounds around noon, quickly reducing the number of birdies that were being posted. Following the stoppage, the wind was not a factor and scores slowly began to drop again. Forty-five players broke par.
Mark Calcavecchia (68), who finished second in last year’s event, and Minnesota native Tom Lehman (69) were two shots behind.
Tommy Armour III (67), Mark O’Meara (68), Kenny Perry (70), Nick Price(68) and Hal Sutton (69) trailed by four.
Huston birdied the first two holes to get to 10 under, and increased that lead with a 25-foot birdie putt on the tough ninth hole. Haas also birdied No. 9 to stay within two strokes of the lead.
After a birdie at No. 11, Huston hit his tee shot on No. 12 into a water hazard, leading to a bogey. Haas and Lehman birdied the hole to get within one shot.
“I was just kind of trying to hold it together the rest of the way,” Huston said. “I hung in there. I made a good par on 16 after a really bad tee shot, and I was fortunate enough to make birdie on the last one.”
Senior birdied Nos. 13, 15 and 17.
Haas missed a short putt on No. 18 that would have him tied for the lead.
“Jay had a lot of opportunities from 10, 15 feet and missed a 3- or 4-footer at the last hole,” Senior said. “He could have really had a real good score today.”
Calcavecchia had birdies on Nos. 14 and 15 to get within a shot. A bad approach shot on 18 – statistically the easiest hole on the course – cost him a birdie opportunity. He also missed four putts from within 4 feet during his round, saying he turned a potential 63 into a 68.
“If I play great tomorrow and don’t miss any putts inside 5 feet, 6 feet, I’ll shoot a good score. I’m hitting it great. It’s just frustrating,” he said.
Lehman, a three-time winner this year and the season points leader, made three bogeys and said he couldn’t get any momentum going but still has a chance at winning.
“There are a lot of guys within four, five shots of the lead and somebody’s going to go low, and if the weather’s real nice, somebody’s going to go real low,” Lehman said. “You hope you’re the one that does.”