It’s a beautiful day at Riviera, with the NTO’s final group on the first tee.
Aaron Baddeley, Fred Couples and Kevin Na are all in contention for the Northern Trust Open title. Baddeley shot a 4-under 67 for a one-shot lead over Couples and Na. Na’s father is battling Leukemia, so a win would be extra special. And he’s never won on the PGA Tour. Baddeley hasn’t won since 2007. Couples is looking to win his third title here. His last was in 1992.
Here’s a column on Fred Couples last week about his back problems, love for Riviera and such. More insight on the 51-year-old who led the Northern Trust after the second round by two shots and trails Aaron Baddeley by one shot with five holes to play here in the third round.
Jerry West, executive director of the Northern Trust Open, was happy to see his friend in the lead at the Northern Trust Open. West and Couples attended a Lakers game together recently.
Couples had a two-shot lead after the second round, but now is tied for second with kevin Na and trails Aaron Baddeley by one shot.
“What you see with him is what you get,” West said. “He’s one of the truly nice people. If you took a popularity vote out here of all the players, I bet he’d be close to a unanimous choice. He has such a nice way about him and smile.”
Anthony Kim, who grew up in Studio City, withdrew from the Northern Trust Open this morning after telling a PGA Tour official he was up all night and sick. Jason Gore (Hart High, Pepperdine) finished his second round yesterday with a 2-over-par 73 and then got sick with the flu bug. Read about his battle with the bug.
Dustin Johnson is the king of drama. He had to sprint up the hill to Riviera first tee, and made it within six seconds of being DQ’d. He had 6 seconds. Johnson was penalized two shots for not being on tee at his 7:32 a.m. tee time. A player has five minutes to get to the tee after the tee time (although still is assessed a two-stroke penalty). Caddie responsible for not knowing correct time but at some point, Johnson is going to have to become more invovled in his own career. How many more mistakes will it take?
This is probably Corey Pavin’s last hurrah at Riviera. Pavin, a two-time winner of the Northern Trust Open, is 51 and will spend most of his time at on the Champions Tour. See the ycool thing that happened to him on Tuesday.