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Ryuji Imada moves two shots clear

Ryuji Imada avoided the trauma of Torrey Pines by shooting a 2-under 70 to build a two-shot lead over Ben Crane and Michael Sim in the Farmers Insurance Open going into the final round on Saturday.

Imada had only one bogey on a day in which Phil Mickelson lost a drive into a eucalyptus tree, D.A. Points chipped over the green and into the hazard and U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover took double bogey on one of the easiest par 4s.

Glover still managed a 68 and was three shots behind. Mickelson rallied for a 70 and was another stroke back.

Imada was at 13-under 203 and will be in the final group with Crane, who had a 69, and Sim, the 25-year-old Australian playing Torrey Pines for the first time since he was a teenager at the Junior World Championship in 2002.

“The score looks pretty solid, but it was a struggle out there,” Imada said.

A runner-up at Torrey Pines two years ago, Imada has a much better opportunity this time. He won’t be starting the final round 12 shots behind, or trying to catch up to Tiger Woods.

He made a nifty up-and-down from short of the 15th green for one par, saved another par from left of the 16th green, and finished the day with a 35-foot birdie putt that gave him a slightly bigger cushion than he expected.

For so many others, birdies were offset by adventures.

Mickelson’s ball in a eucalyptus cost him a double bogey. After Glover’s double bogey he followed with four birdies.Points, who shared the lead with Imada after two rounds, kept pace until he chipped over the 14th green and into the hazard, scrambling for a double bogey. He had a 74, although he was still in the mix.

Ten players were separated by four shots going into the final round, which wasn’t much on a course that hosted the U.S. Open in 2008.

“You cannot predict what’s going to happen in this game, especially on this course,” Crane said.

Mickelson would not have predicted seeing a ball get stuck in a tree—two days in a row. On Friday, it happened in his group to Ryan Palmer. This time, it was Mickelson who stared up into the eucalyptus tree, even sending a young fan up it to help.

“My short game kept me in it,” Mickelson said. “I didn’t hit the ball the way I’ve been hitting it coming in. I don’t feel like it’s far off. But at least I’m in a position now where a good round tomorrow can get it done.”

Scores

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