Haas has three-shot lead after 3 rounds
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.