Sabbatini, Mallinger tied atop Nelson
IRVING, Texas — Rory Sabbatini and John Mallinger are set to play another round together as leaders at the Byron Nelson Championship.
The second-round co-leaders shot 5-under 65s Saturday to share the lead again after three rounds. They are at 13-under 197 and two strokes ahead of three other players.
Sabbatini was even through four holes before closing his front nine with four birdies. He has won four times, the last two years ago at the Colonial.
Mallinger enjoyed a bogey-free round. He is in his 77th PGA Tour event and looking for his first victory.
Dustin Johnson had a 66 and struggled after going 6 under through eight holes. He was in the group at 11 under with Brian Davis and D.A. Points.
It was the second consecutive 65 for Mallinger, though much different from Friday’s round when he had two eagles, four birdies and three bogeys.
“Today was the type of golf that I like to play. Normally, that’s my game,” Mallinger said. “I kind of had a gameplan going in and I stuck with it. I executed, and that was the biggest thing. Being the leader, it was always a little different feeling.”
Mallinger made a 9-foot birdie at the 528-yard third, and tapped in for par on the next hole after missing an 8-footer. Consecutive birdies followed, and his only other birdies after that came at Nos. 14 and 15.
Sabbatini had five birdies in a seven-hole stretch, starting at the 174-yard No. 5, when his pin-high tee shot rolled back and lipped the cup, setting up a 3-footer. He rolled in a 41-foot birdie putt at No. 9.
After his only bogey, when he missed the fairway right at No. 14 and had to punch out short of the water, Sabbatini got that stroke back with an 11-foot birdie at No. 15.
“I managed to scrounge out a few decent shots. My ball-striking was good enough that my misses were playable,” Sabbatini said. “I don’t want to press my luck. I felt like I got away with a few misses.”
Because of the threat of thunderstorms, players teed off in threesomes off Nos. 1 and 10. Everybody was done by mid-afternoon without any delays or rain.
Davis (66) was in the last-group threesome that included the leaders. He had two birdies the first three holes before the first of his four bogeys.
For the final round Sunday, there will be the normal twosomes going off No. 1.
Johnson was 13 under when he capped a streak of four consecutive birdies with a 9-footer at the 461-yard No. 8 after hitting his approach from the rough.
But Johnson then went right and then left on consecutive wayward tee shots, taking penalty strokes on both. The tee shot at the 427-yard ninth hole went into the water and his 33-foot par putt slid just right of the cup.
After hitting his drive at the 435-yard 10th way left into an unplayable lie near more water, Johnson momentarily stood on the box staring ahead. Once he got to his ball, he took a drop in an adjacent fairway and knocked the approach to 3 feet to save par.
Johnson made a 10-foot birdie at the 323-yard par-4 11th, but had three bogeys the final six holes, including the par-5 16th.
Kevin Streelman (64), Glen Day (65) and Briny Baird (67), who was 5 under through seven holes before three bogeys in a five-hole stretch, were at 10-under 200.
Divots: PGA Tour rookie Marc Leishman had a career-low round of 63, the best of the day. Starting on the back nine, Leishman had three consecutive birdies, back-to-back bogeys and then three more birdies before his first par came on No. 18. ... There are four defending Nelson champions still in the tournament. The closest to the leaders is 1987 winner Fred Couples at 8-under 202 after his three rounds in the 60s.