Friday, December 15, 2017
Golf

Bubba Watson takes one-shot lead at Northern Trust Open

LOS ANGELES — Bubba Watson has the 54-hole lead at the Northern Trust Open, and that might not even be the most fun he has had this week.

He took his 3-year-old son to hang out with pop star Justin Bieber. The two-time Masters champion had a small part — one line that he said required four takes — in Disney Channel's Girl Meets World. And he couldn't wait to leave Riviera on Saturday so he could get to an NBA game between the Clippers and Warriors.

"That's the advantage is that I'm friends with a lot of the guys, friends with Steve Ballmer — I don't know if you know him, he's the owner of the Clippers," Watson said.

Winning at Riviera Country Club for the second time in three years? That might be gravy.

Watson put himself in prime condition on a gorgeous afternoon along Sunset Boulevard with 4-under 67, which included an efficient up-and-down for birdie on the par-5 17th to break out of the pack and a par save from the concession area down the hill and to the right of the 18th green.

Navigating the final 18 holes against a strong pack of contenders might be tougher than traffic on Interstate 405.

Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott and Hideki Matsuyama were all among the 10 players within three shots of the lead going into the final round. Watson was at 12-under 201, one shot ahead of Johnson, Jason Kokrak and Chez Reavie.

"We all feel good about our chances, even the guy that's five back," Watson said. "For me, I'm going to go out and try to do the same thing, keep my head down, try to take deep breaths and try to slow it down and hopefully it works out."

Watson hit more fairways Saturday (10) then the opening two rounds combined.

Kokrak, the 36-hole leader, made three birdies on the back nine to salvage 70 and remain in the final group. Reavie had a three-shot lead at one point on the back nine, courtesy of a perfectly placed drive that led to eagle on No. 2. But he missed a pair of 8-foot par putts on consecutive holes and had to settle for 69.

LPGA: American Danielle Kang shot 5-under 67 to move into a share of the third-round lead with South Korea's Jenny Shin and Haru Nomura of Japan at the Women's Australian Open in Adelaide. Leading contenders Lydia Ko (68) and Karrie Webb (70) were one stroke off the lead at the Grange's West course. Kang was at 9-under 207 along with Shin and Nomura, who had 70s. Catriona Matthew, who was tied for the lead after two rounds, shot 73 and was at 7-under.

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