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SAN FRANCISCO — Seattle native Fred Couples extended his lead to five strokes Saturday after the third round of the Champions Tour’s season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship.

Winless this season, Couples shot a 3-under 68 to reach 15-under 198 at TPC Harding Park.

“I enjoy having a lead,” Couples said. “If you’re behind, every shot is important. I don’t do well with that. I’m just going to go out and play. For the most part it’s about stepping up and just hitting it.”

Mark O’Meara was second after a 67.

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“He’ll be hard to beat, no question, with his power and length,” O’Meara said about Couples.

Couples and O’Meara have known each other since both qualified for the PGA Tour in 1980.

“The best things are the pairings,” Couples said. “I get Mark O’Meara, and it couldn’t get any better for me.”

Defending champion Tom Lehman had the best round of the day, a 65, to join Bart Bryant and Peter Senior at 9 under. Pullman High grad Kirk Triplett was tied for 16th at 3 under.

Couples opened the round with a bogey.

“It’s almost laughable,” he said. “I could play that hole 100 times and always make par. Making a good drive on the first hit and not making par is ridiculous.”

O’Meara recalled that Couples slept in his car during the first stage of the qualifying tournament in 1980, but was invited to stay with O’Meara the final two or three days.

Couples and O’Meara wound up playing together on the final day of Q-school in Fresno, Calif.

“I was the last guy to make it,” Couples said. “I think he was one shot better than me, but we both qualified, and neither of us ever had to do that again.”


• Dustin Johnson had a chance to run away from the field in the HSBC Champions in Shanghai. But he made two double bogeys in his 6-under 66 and saw his lead cut in half to three shots going into the final round of this World Golf Championship.

Johnson was at 18-under 198, three clear of Ian Poulter. Graeme McDowell had a 64 and was four shots behind.

Martin Kaymer set the course record with a 62 and was eight shots behind.

Puyallup’s Ryan Moore was tied for 33rd at 3 under.

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