Second-round leader Ben Crenshaw got off to a miserable start but birdied three of the last five holes to salvage an even-par 70 yesterday and preserve a one-stroke lead over Leonard Thompson and Lee Trevino after three rounds of the $200,000 Texas Open.

Crenshaw, 26, a former University of Texas star who has played the 6,525 yard Oak Hills Country Club course since he was a teen-ager, had two bogeys and a double bogey in his first seven holes and was three over par after the front nine.

But he had back-to-back birdies on the par-four 14th hole and the par four 15the band birdied the par-four 17th.

Trevino, who covets the Texas Open title he has never won, also flounderedon the front nine and was one over par at the turn.

Trailed by his usual large gallery, he drilled in four bridie putts on the final nine, including birdies on 16 and 17 for a 67 that moved him to 199.

Crenshaw had put together rounds of 65 and 68 and held a two-stroke lead over Lou Graham after two rounds.

Bunched in third at 200 were George Burns III, who fired a 65 yesterday; Graham, and first-round leader Hubert Green. Graham struggled through an even-par round, while Green shot a 68.

Thompson was six strokes back after the second round and proceeded to bogey the first hole yesterday. But he reeled off six birdies, including four on the back nine, to move into the second-place tie with Trevino.