GFC Search

 

McGirt takes NTO lead, eyes first Tour title

RSS

After a sizzling 65 on Saturday, William McGirt now finds his name atop the standings at the Northern Trust Open. Here's how things look after three rounds at Riviera, where McGirt hopes to hold on for his first career PGA Tour victory:

Leaderboard: William McGirt (-12), Charlie Beljan (-10), George McNeill (-10), Jason Allred (-9), Brian Harman (-9), Bubba Watson (-8)

What it means: McGirt started quickly with birdies on five of his first six holes, adding three more on a four-hole stretch from Nos. 10-13. As a result, he takes a two-shot advantage into the final round as he looks to hoist his first trophy and punch a ticket to his first Masters in the process.

Round of the day: Two weeks removed from a close call in Phoenix, Watson once again played his way into contention with a 64 Saturday at Riviera, tying for the low round of the week. The southpaw made seven birdies on his round and failed to drop a shot, moving from deep among the chase pack into the top 10 with one round to go. He's now in position to notch a third top-10 finish in just five starts this season.

Best of the rest: McGirt began the day three shots off the pace but quickly erased that deficit with a barrage of birdies to start his round. The 34-year-old took just 28 putts during the third round and made a total of eight birdies on a course that has shown its teeth all week. McGirt reached 14 of 18 greens in regulation Saturday and capitalized on the momentum created by his outward nine of 4-under 31.

Biggest disappointment: Last year, Sang-Moon Bae led here after 36 holes but faltered during the third round. This year the script repeated itself, as Bae played his way back to the pack with a 1-over 72 after holding the overnight advantage. The Korean made three birdies Saturday but countered them with four bogeys, including one on the home hole, and now will begin the final round four shots off the pace set by McGirt.

Main storyline heading into Sunday: All eyes will be on McGirt as he looks to capture a maiden title, but should he slip there are several players eager to take his spot at the top. The chase group includes Beljan, who lost in a playoff here a year ago, and Allred, who needed to survive a Monday qualifier just to gain entry into this week's event.

Shot of the day: A veteran usually knows all the angles, and Jim Furyk proved that maxim on Saturday. Facing a difficult pitch at the par-3 sixth hole, Furyk opted to play the ball 20 feet past the pin and into a backboard. He then watched as the ball trickled back down the slope and ultimately into the hole for an improbable birdie, one that helped the former U.S. Open champ to an even-par 71 in the third round.

Quote of the day: "It's just another round of golf. Take what it gives me, play my game, and at the end of the day there's a 13-month old at home that probably won't care if I shoot 65 again or 75." - McGirt

Related Articles