Tuesday, March 20, 2018

McGirt leading unheralded trio at Riviera

LOS ANGELES — A city known for its star power has a PGA Tour event filled with fairy tales off Sunset Boulevard.

Start with William McGirt, who ran off eight birdies in 13 holes at Riviera on his way to 6-under 65 Saturday to build a two-shot lead in the Northern Trust Open.

McGirt, 34, has never won on tour. His last victory was on the eGolf Tour in 2007 and has played in one major, the PGA Championship, two years ago.

"When you're around minitours for eight years and go through a bunch of heartaches at Q-school, once you finally get here, you really have to appreciate it," he said.

McGirt was at 12-under 201, two ahead of George McNeill (66) and Charlie Beljan (68).

McNeill was working in a pro shop until returning to the tour. Beljan was wheeled off the course at Disney on a stretcher because of a panic attack in 2012 and won two days later.

Jason Allred hasn't played a tour event since qualifying for the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. After opening at 73, Allred is three shots back (204).

The group at 8-under 205 includes Jordan Spieth (67), Dustin Johnson (69), Jimmy Walker (67), and Masters champions Bubba Watson (64) and Charl Schwartzel (68).

Champions: Kirk Triplett shot 5-under 67 in windy conditions for a share of the second-round lead with Bernard Langer in the ACE Group Classic at Naples. Triplett matched Langer (70) at 10-under 134. Duffy Waldorf (68) and Olin Browne (71) were 9 under.

LPGA: South Korea's Chella Choi broke the Victoria Golf Club record with 10-under 62 for a share of the third-round lead in the Women's Australian Open in Melbourne. Choi matched 17-year-old Australian amateur Minjee Lee (68) at 13-under 203 in the event sanctioned by the LPGA, European and Australian tours. Seminole's Brittany Lincicome (74) was at par 216.

Stricker in: Steve Stricker said he will play in the WGC-Match Play Championship now that his brother had a successful liver transplant. He was leaning against playing next week in Arizona because his 50-year-old brother, Scott, was waiting on a transplant. On Thursday night, Stricker received a call that a liver was available. His brother had a 10-hour surgery the next day.