NAPA, Calif. -- Brandt Snedeker birdied the final three holes Saturday to take a three-stroke lead into the final round of the PGA Tour's season-opening Safeway Open.
Phil Mickelson, tied for second entering the round, had a 74 to drop into a tie for 15th at 8 under.
Snedeker finished with a 3-under 69 in windy conditions to get to 16-under 200 on the North Course at Silverado Resort and Spa.
"I'm really proud of the way I stepped up there and hit some quality shots when I needed to," Sneaker said. "I made some birdies and gave me a little bit of cushion for tomorrow, which will be really important because tomorrow's supposed to be tougher than today, so every shot is really important coming down the stretch."
He won the Wyndham Championship in August, opening with a 59 en route to his ninth PGA Tour title.
"It was a tough day, the wind kicked up the last 12 or 13 holes," Snedeker said. "I just did a great job of staying patient knowing the last three holes were birdies holes."
Kevin Tway was second after a 68.
"It was a tough day, the wind picked up," said Tway, who had a bogey-free round with four birdies. "I kept the ball in play nicely. I made a nice save on 14 and that was my only real bad shot."
Sungjae Im (69) was 12 under, and Bill Haas (67) followed at 11 under.
"I hit some nice quality shots coming down the stretch with the two par 5s," Haas said. "I saw it (the wind) is to supposed to blow, and be even more difficult than today. But I am very pleased with mike back nine; I hit some nice shots."
Fred Couples also was 8 under after a 70 in his final regular PGA Tour start. The 59-year-old Hall of Famer played the first two rounds with Snedeker, shooting a 65 on Friday.
"I played pretty well," said Couples, who eagled the ninth hole. "On the front, there were a couple of birdie opportunities, but when I made the turn, the wind started to pick up and I hit a couple of good shots on 10 and 11."