Campbell maintains four-shot lead

Chad Campbell fired a third-round 68 in California on Friday to maintain his four-shot lead in the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic.

Campbell had a 54-hole total of 19-under-par 197 in the five-round event, four strokes in front of fellow American Scott Verplank (65) and Australia’s John Senden (68).

Pat Perez (70), Phil Mickelson (68) and Billy Andrade (67) were tied for fourth at 13-under 203.

Campbell briefly stretched his lead to five shots, but gave one back with his first bogey of the tournament when he failed to get up and down from a greenside bunker on his 17th hole.

Campbell’s third straight round in the 60s was his worst of the week, and he admitted that even a four-shot lead might not be safe in the benign conditions predicted for the weekend.

“I don’t know if there is a safe lead,” Campbell said. “You can have some guys playing Bermuda Dunes, I think that’s the easiest course, and you can shoot some good scores out there.”

On Saturday, Campbell is playing Classic Club, the toughest of the four courses used in the pro-am rotation.

He played a practice round there early in the week, but isn’t sure what to expect.

“It’s been the hardest course,” Campbell said. “I am looking forward to playing it.
I think if the wind is not blowing, you can make some birdies out there.”

Birdies have not been a problem for Campbell. He has 19 of them in three days in addition to his only bogey.

That came on Friday at number eight, his 17th hole at the Arnold Palmer Private Course at PGA West. He was in a bunker off the tee and in another with his approach.

It was his first bogey in 60 holes, dating back to last week’s Sony Open. He now has just two bogeys in 96 holes this year.

“I’m excited with the way I’m playing,” Campbell said. “It’s nice to get the year started right.”

Senden plays Bermuda Dunes in the fourth round and will try to take advantage of the easiest of the four courses.

“I think I suit that course, I like it,” said Senden, who has rounds of 70, 63 and 68. “It’s got good opportunity out there. I think if I just keep on playing the way I do and play nicely ... you never know what’s around the corner.”

Mickelson, a two-time winner of this event, shot 68 at the Classic Club, a course he had never seen until Friday.

“This is, without any wind, a very tough golf course,” said Mickelson, who hadn’t played in a PGA Tour event since the Michelin Championship at Las Vegas in mid-October. “Even though we had low scores, there’s a lot of penalties. I can imagine it would be extremely difficult with some wind.”

Mickelson is at Bermuda Dunes on Saturday and is expecting his best round of the event.

“I think it is the course that most people have been going low on, so I need to shoot eight or nine under par to really have a good run at it,” he predicted.—Sapa-AFP

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