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Levin holds on in bid for first title

Spencer Levin watches a four-shot lead after 10 holes get shaved to one heading into the final round.

Associated Press

Spencer Levin watches a four-shot lead after 10 holes get shaved to one heading into the final round.

DUBLIN, Ohio — Spencer Levin realizes a one-shot lead going into the final round means next to nothing.

If he didn't learn that by blowing a six-shot lead at the Phoenix Open earlier this year, he was reminded of it on the back nine Saturday at the Memorial Tournament.

For the longest time, Levin couldn't miss. He chipped in for eagle from behind the fifth green. He holed a chip from 30 yards short of the 10th green for birdie, this one giving him a four-shot lead on a tough day at Muirfield Village.

Eight holes later, his lead was one over Rory Sabbatini.

Levin relied on a few good breaks and one good par save to match the day's low round at 3-under 69 and an 8-under 208 total, giving him another chance at his first PGA Tour victory and an opportunity today to get into the U.S. Open without having to go through a 36-hole qualifier.

The circumstances are far different from when Levin lost that lead in Phoenix, not only the margin but the caliber of players chasing him. He'll find out today if he learned from his failure, though he already is loaded with perspective.

"I did learn that I still got to play golf, I still got to eat the same stuff, still have the same friends, still have the same family, so nothing really changed," he said. "Obviously, you want to win when you're in position. But I'm just going to go out there (today) and have fun."

Levin, who had one of only three rounds in the 60s, was at 8-under 208 and plays in the final group with Sabbatini, a six-time PGA Tour winner who shot 71.

The attention figures to be on the twosome in front of them: Rickie Fowler (69), the Quail Hollow winner who has been playing his best golf over the past month, and Tiger Woods, whose other win this year came in demanding conditions at Bay Hill. Woods bogeyed two of the last three holes for 1-over 73.

Right behind them were Ryo Ishikawa (71), Henrik Stenson (71) and Jonathan Byrd (72).

"Four shots is definitely manageable around this golf course, considering the conditions and what they're going to be (today)," Woods said. "A lot of guys are still in this ballgame. It'll be an exciting day."

LPGA: Stacy Lewis holds a commanding six-stroke lead in the ShopRite Classic in Galloway Township, N.J., after tying a tournament 36-hole record with a second-round 65.

Lewis' two-day total of 12-under 130 put her six strokes ahead of Anna Nordqvist, who shot a second-round 67.

Defending champion Brittany Lincicome of Seminole shot 70 and is tied for 25th at 142.

CHAMPIONS: Jay Haas carries a three-shot lead into today's final round of the Principal Charity Classic after shooting a 6-under 65 in West Des Moines, Iowa.

Haas, who won the event at Glen Oaks Country Club in 2007 and 2008, will try to become the first golfer to win three times in Iowa. He is at 11-under 131 after his bogey-free performance in the second round.

Larry Mize eagled the 18th hole to get within three of Haas.

LATE-NIGHT CHASE: Masters champion Bubba Watson said he and his wife, Angie, were chased by another car Tuesday night after he hosted a Christian music concert in Columbus, Ohio. "Angie was driving," Watson said. "She had to pull over. I switched to driving so I could drive through someone's yard if I had to. But we had to drive away from our house, the house we rented. We drove for 37 minutes" until the danger passed.

LITTLE RECOURSE: Two days after Phil Mickelson, clearly agitated by spectators taking pictures with cell phones, withdrew from the Memorial, tournament founder Jack Nicklaus said the practice is nearly impossible to police. The PGA Tour began allowing cell phones at tournaments a year ago but bans the use of cameras. "There is no way in the world you could have a tournament police that policy,'' Nicklaus said. "What do you want, the Gestapo out there? It's kind of ridiculous. You've got 30,000, 40,000 people out there. How are going to go out there and do that? That's crazy, you can't do that.''

Levin holds on in bid for first title 06/02/12 [Last modified: Saturday, June 2, 2012 10:11pm]
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