- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 5, 2009

HUMBLE, TEXAS (AP) - Fred Couples, Paul Casey and Geoff Ogilvy were part of a six-player tie at 11-under par after three rounds of the Shell Houston Open.

Bo Van Pelt, Colt Knost and Ryan Moore were also tied for the lead when the round concluded Sunday morning. PGA Tour officials said it was the first six-player logjam after 54 holes since at least 1970, when the statistic was first kept.

Couples finished 10 holes Saturday, then birdied the par-4 12th on Sunday to join the leaders. Casey made three birdies after resuming his round, then bogeyed the 17th to slip back to 11-under, and Ogilvy birdied three of his first five holes to move up.

The tournament has been playing catch-up since high winds suspended play Thursday afternoon and wind gusts up to 35 mph were forecast for Sunday.

Van Pelt was the overnight leader, making two late birdies to reach 11 under before play was suspended Saturday by darkness. Players resumed their rounds under sunny skies and strengthening breezes Sunday.

Padraig Harrington and Lee Westwood were in a group at 10 under early in the final round. Justin Leonard, Jonathan Byrd and John Senden were at 9-under par.

Ogilvy finished second at Redstone in 2008 and broke 70 in his first three rounds this year. He’s already won twice in 2009, outdueling Casey in the finals of the WGC Match Play last month.

Ogilvy has had an up-and-down week in Houston, countering six bogeys and a double with 19 birdies through three rounds.

“I’m hitting lots of good shots _ I’ve hit a few loose ones, too, but a lot of good ones,” he said. “I’ve holed a fair amount of putts. Most people contending in a golf tournament are putting well, so that’s no surprise.”

To save time, tournament organizers were not reshuffling the third-round threesomes before the final 18. The leaders were due to tee off again about 90 minutes after finishing their third round.

Ogilvy is one of more than 30 players who came to Houston to tune up for next week’s Masters, but he was one of several who didn’t start until Friday and each of his rounds has been cut short by darkness.

“It’s not ideal,” Ogilvy said. “We’re going to get finished, it looks like, and we’re all going to get out of here. Anyone who needs to get to Augusta is going to get there tonight, so it’s all going to work out.”

Phil Mickelson was already on his way to Georgia on Sunday after missing the cut.

He followed a first-round 77 with a 76 on Saturday that included two triple bogeys, but Mickelson didn’t seem worried about his game heading into next week’s Masters. He hadn’t played since winning the CA Championship on March 15 and said he needed to play some tournament rounds, regardless of the scores.

“It was really good that I played here, ‘cause I made some mistakes during these first two rounds that you just can’t do competitively,” Mickelson said. “Stuff like that, I needed to get out of my system after a couple of weeks off.

“It doesn’t feel like my game is far off. I’m not overly concerned with what the number showed. I’m looking forward to next week.”

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