SAN MARTIN -- John Mallinger faltered Saturday, but his 1-under 70 was good enough to hold onto the lead after three rounds of the Frys.com Open.
The pack closed in on him, however, cutting his lead from four strokes to two. And among the players lurking close by is a veteran whose $62 million in career earnings puts him third on the all-time PGA Tour list, Vijay Singh.
Does that add to the drama in Sunday's final round?
"Maybe for TV, but not really for me," Mallinger said. "I can't do much about what he's going to do. I'm going to still stay aggressive and try to make as many birdies as possible. If I can go out and shoot 3 or 4 under, see if those guys can catch me."
Mallinger had his poorest round of the tournament Saturday, one day after he tied the CordeValle Golf Club record at 62. His 198 through 54 holes puts him two strokes ahead of rookie pro Jonas Blixt, three strokes ahead of Charles Howell III and Jason Kokrak, and four ahead of Alexandre Rocha and Singh.
At 49, Singh hasn't been the feared opponent he was earlier in his career when he won 34 tour championships, including three majors. But even before Saturday -- when he shot his second consecutive 66 and jumped 10 spots up the leader board -- there have been signs that his game is returning.
In recent weeks, Singh said, he felt his putting would be strong in the first two rounds, then disappear. He does have four top
"But this week has been looking good," Singh said. "I've changed my grip a little bit and it's flowing really freely. So that's a big plus."
Singh finished strong on the back nine Saturday, avoiding any bogeys while shooting three birdies and an eagle on the 17th hole -- a par-4 listed at 358 scorecard yards and 290 actual yards. His drive landed 5 feet from the hole, and Singh sank the putt.
"The hole is not playing very long," he said. "If you hit a good drive, everybody's going to get up there."
Howell, who also shot his second 66 of the tournament, treated Singh's presence in the top 10 as a known commodity.
"You just know that he's going to play good tomorrow because he's been in the position a ton and he's won a ton. You would say he's the favorite amongst the guys at 11 or 12 under," said Howell, who is included in that group.
Blixt, a native of Sweden, now lives in Jacksonville, Fla., and counts Singh among his neighbors there.
Both call the TPC Sawgrass course home and Blixt said bragging rights adds to his incentive tomorrow.
"Obviously it's cool to play with a guy who's a hall of fame member and he deserves a lot of respect for what he's done," said Blixt, who also shot a 66 on Saturday. "Will I try to beat him? Yes. I will try as hard as I can."
After two different players -- Nick O'Hern and Mallinger -- shot 62 over the first two rounds, the CordeValle course tightened up on Saturday. John Rollins' 64 was the best round of the day, Russell Knox and Ben Curtis shot 65s and seven players notched a 66.
Mallinger had gone two rounds without a bogey, but sandwiched two around one birdie on the front nine.
On the back nine, he added two birdies to finish one under par for the day and provide encouragement for the final round.
"You know, just to stay in the position where I am and have a chance for tomorrow, it was kind of the goal going into this week," the 33-year-old Long Beach resident said. "I have a chance to win the golf tournament, which is always a good thing."