LOS ANGELES: William McGirt’s red-hot start at Riviera on Saturday saw the American seize the lead in the Northern Trust Open, where he’ll vie for his first US PGA Tour title on Sunday (Monday in Manila).

The 34-year-old birdied the first three holes and five of his first six, finishing with eight birdies in his six-under par 65 for a 12-under par total of 201.

McGirt had a two-stroke lead over George McNeill and Charlie Beljan in the $6.7-million event.

McNeill posted a third-round 66 and Beljan, who lost to John Merrick in a playoff here last year, posted a 68 for 203.

“Hit a lot of good shots and starting out, the hole looked like a washtub,” said McGirt, adding that he’d just try to maintain his momentum on Sunday.

“It’s just 18 more holes and whatever is going to happen is going to happen,” he said. “All I can do is go out and play the best I can.”

It was a further stroke back to Brian Harman, whose 68 included an eagle at the first, and Jason Allred—a Monday qualifier who followed up a second-round 64 with a 67 to stay in the hunt at 204.

The lesser-known names on the upper reaches of the leaderboard had a bevy of big names well within striking distance in a group of seven players on eight-under 205.

They included former Masters champions Bubba Watson and Charl Schwartzel, rising US star Jordan Spieth, eight-time US tour winner Dustin Johnson and early season sensation Jimmy Walker, who on Sunday notched his third win in eight starts at Pebble Beach.

Watson had seven birdies without a bogey in his seven-under 64. Schwartzel posted a second straight 68 and Walker and Spieth both signed for 67s. First-round leader Johnson carded a 68, and Cameron Tringale carded a 67 to join the group at eight-under.

Overnight leader Bae Sang-Moon of South Korea got there with a one-over 72.



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