Ryuji Imada, the former Chamberlain High star and a runner-up at Torrey Pines two years ago, 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.
Imada avoided the trauma that caught up with so many other contenders Saturday, making only one bogey and escaping with several key pars for a 2-under 70 that gave him a two-shot lead over Ben Crane and Michael Sim in the Farmers Insurance Open.
Imada essentially won the B-Flight two years ago when he closed with a 67 to finish eight shots behind Woods. No matter the score or who's in the field, he obviously has figured out something about the tough South Course at Torrey Pines.
He 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.
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.
For others, birdies were offset by adventures.
Phil Mickelson lost a ball in a eucalyptus tree and took double bogey, then rallied for a 70 and was four shots behind. U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover made double bogey on one of the easiest par 4s, then followed with four birdies for a 68, leaving him three shots behind going into today.
D.A. 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.