Watson’s 7-under-par 64 at the Northern Trust Open was four shots better than any score he had posted in his previous 21 rounds at Riviera.
Watson was tied for sixth when he signed his scorecard.
“I just putted well,” Watson said. “I love this course. I’ve never played well here, but I’ve loved it.”
Watson is coming off a second-place finish at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in his last start two weeks ago, when he couldn’t close out a two-shot lead in the final round. He is making his eighth start at the Northern Trust Open. He has missed the cut or withdrawn in half of those starts here with his best finish a tie for 13th two years ago.