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PGA

Last spot in Masters up for grabs in Houston

HUMBLE, TEXAS

Ian Poulter has played in the Masters a dozen times, never missing the cut. Beau Hossler has never played a competitive round at Augusta National.

Both are in position to become the last man in the Masters field, and neither wants to think about it.

The 42-year-old Poulter surged into a share of the lead at the Houston Open on Saturday with a 7-under 65, and Hossler, a 23-year-old PGA Tour rookie, matched him at 14-under 202 after he holed a 7-footer for birdie on the par-4 18th to shoot 69.

Like all PGA Tour events that offer full FedEx Cup points, the Houston Open title comes with an invitation to next week’s Masters.

“No, not thinking about it, not talking about it,” Poulter said. “I’m going to go out and have some fun tomorrow. There’s a lot of ifs and buts. I’ll have no emotion at all. I’m in a no-lose situation. ... I’ll go do my job.”

Four players were two shots behind Poulter and Hossler — Australian Greg Chalmers (65), Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo (67), American Kevin Tway (69) and Paul Dunne of Ireland (69) — and none of them has a spot at Augusta yet either.

Hossler has popped up on a major leaderboard before — he briefly led the 2012 U.S. Open while still in high school — and he said getting to the Masters would be “as good as it gets.” But he said contemplating that opportunity would only lead to “trouble” on Sunday.

Poulter shot 64 on Friday after opening with a 73 that had him packing his bags in anticipation of a missed cut. It was the first time since his last victory in 2012 that he had consecutive rounds of 65 or better on the PGA Tour.

Asked if his rounds ranked among the best back-to-back efforts in his 23 years of touring professionally, Poulter said, “From a putting standpoint, yes, absolutely.”

It was a simple fix for the English veteran renowned for making crucial putts on winning Ryder Cup teams. He opened his shoulders slightly, allowing him to see the lines better, and has played his last 40 holes in 16 under, without a bogey.

LPGA

Lindberg takes charge at Mission Hills

RANCHO MIRAGE, CALIF.

Pernilla Lindberg took advantage of playing partner Sung Hyun Park’s late collapse to take a three-stroke lead Saturday in the ANA Inspiration.

Lindberg shot a 2-under 70 on another hot and mostly calm day at Mission Hills, putting the 31-year-old Swede in position to make the major championship her first professional victory.

Amy Olson was second after a 68. The 25-year-old former North Dakota State star — and the LPGA Tour’s only certified public accountant — also is seeking her first win as a pro.

Lindberg was two strokes behind Park after the fourth-ranked South Korean player made her third straight birdie on the par-5 11th. The group was then put on the clock for slow play, and Park dropped five strokes in the next five holes.

The U.S. Women’s Open champion bogeyed Nos. 12 and 13, had a double bogey on the par-4 14th after taking two shots to get out of the back bunker, and bogeyed the 16th.

Lindberg scrambled for pars on the first four holes on the back nine, ran in an 18-foot birdie putt on 14 and made a 25-footer for par on 15 for a two-stroke swing. Lindberg bogeyed the par-3 17th and then hit a wedge to 5 feet to set up a birdie on the par-5 18th. She broke the tournament 54-hole mark at 14-under 202.

Associated Press

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