Haas has three-shot lead af­ter 3 rounds

The Washington Post Sunday - - WPSPORTS -

Bill Haas had no rea­son to think this round at Riviera was go­ing to be any­thing spe­cial.

With an iron in his hand, he failed to make birdie on the par-5 open­ing hole, the eas­i­est on the golf course. Solid iron shots led to a pair of birdies on the front nine, and with Riviera play­ing tough in warm, dry con­di­tions on Satur­day, he was part of a large group chal­leng­ing for the lead.

Three holes changed ev­ery­thing.

Haas made a tough 30-footer for birdie on No. 9. He pitched in from 60 feet for ea­gle on the scary par-4 10th. And he hit a good bunker shot with lit­tle mar­gin for er­ror on the par-5 11th that set up a birdie.

Just like that, he was on his way to a 7-un­der 64 and a three-shot lead go­ing into the fi­nal round of the North­ern Trust Open.

His 64 was the best round of a dif­fi­cult day by three shots, and it was nearly eight shots bet­ter than the av­er­age score. It put Haas at 12-un­der 201, leav­ing him in good po­si­tion to be­come only the eighth back-to-back win­ner in the 76-year his­tory of this tour­na­ment.

A year ago, Haas was two shots be­hind go­ing into the fi­nal round and wound up win­ning in a play­off over Mick­el­son and Kee­gan Bradley. This time, he has a com­fort­able mar­gin over U.S. Open cham­pion Webb Simp­son and former Masters cham­pion Charl Schwartzel, who each thought they did well for a 68.

John Mer­rick bo­geyed the 18th hole for a 70 and joined Simp­son and Schwartzel at 9-un­der 204.

CHAM­PI­ONS TOUR: Bern­hard Langer shot a 2-un­der 70 to take a three-shot lead af­ter the sec­ond round of the ACE Group Clas­sic.

Langer, who had a 10-un­der 62 in the first round, picked up where he left off with a birdie on his first hole. He made 11 straight pars af­ter that, birdied No. 13, and had a par on the last five holes in windy con­di­tions. He is at 12-un­der 132.

Tai­wan’s Chien Soon Lu and Tom Per­nice Jr., who was run­nerup last week in Boca Ra­ton, Fla., were tied for sec­ond at 9-un­der 135.

LPGA: Jiyai Shin of South Korea and 15-year-old ama­teur Ly­dia Ko both shot 3-un­der 70s to surge six shots clear of the field head­ing into the fi­nal day of the Women’s Aus­tralian Open in Can­berra.

Born in South Korea and based in New Zealand, Ko jumped to an early lead at Royal Can­berra with birdies on the sec­ond, fourth and sixth holes. She al­lowed Shin to re­gain a share of the lead with bo­geys on No. 12 and 14 be­fore mak­ing an­other birdie on the fi­nal hole to fin­ish the day at 17-un­der 202.

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