How Haas jumped to the front: Riviera update at 1:30 p.m.

Defending Northern Trust Open champ Bill Haas eagled the 10th hole at Riviera with a 57-foot chip to highlight a run where he made up six strokes between the fifth and 11th holes to take a two-stroke lead this afternoon.

The 30-year-old out of Wake Forrest has shot 6-under through 14 to pass by Fredrik Jacobson and John Merrick, who are 9-under for the tournament. Jacobson, tied for the second-round lead, is at even par for the day. His round has included a double-bogey 6 at the fourth hole, plus birdies at Nos. 10 and 11.

Merrick is 1-under for the day, balancing three bogeys with a double-eagle at No. 11.

Haas’ round is by far the best of the day.

His 268-yard drive at No. 10 was short of the green, leading to his chip.

At No. 9, Haas hit a 28-footer for a birdie. At No. 11, he got out of the right front bunker and made a 4-footer for a birdie.

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That beautiful old sycamore at No. 16? It’s what makes Riviera a classic branch of the PGA Tour

PACIFIC PALISADES – This sycamore tree behind the 16th tee at Riviera deserves all the support it can get.

It went sideways long ago. It probably would have been easier to retire it long ago in some arbitrary arboretum for iconic foliage, but thankfully the greens keepers at this classic golf course have stayed classy and kept it as one of the true relics left in Rustic Canyon.

Instead, four medal posts in various stages of height and rustiness keep what’s left of it propped up. Not as a Hollywood prop, but as a symbol of useful history.

Well, even that’s subject to interpretation. It provides no shade. The base is hollowed out, allowing the marshal at this par-3 hole to store his jacket and lunch for later this afternoon.

Suddenly, a large black-and-orange butterfly came fluttering out of one of the trunk’s knots. Too quick to capture with any Shutterfly account, too daring considering another morning group was about to tee off, disrupting all other nature in the nearby surroundings.

There’s another famous sycamore way over at the 12th green named after Humphrey Bogart, marking the spot where the actor used to sit and watch everyone else scratch their heads in frustration. But why this sycamore at 16 remains more relevant is part of the story why Riviera has stayed irrepressible in the annual PGA Tour stops. Continue reading

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Third-round update at Riviera, noontime: Four-way tie at the top

Bill Haas jumped out at 3-under 32 for the first nine and created a four-way tie atop the leaderboard at the Northern Trust Open this morning.

Hass joined second-round co-leader Sang-Moon Bae, former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel and UCLA grad John Merrick at 8-under. Merrick had back-to-back bogeys at Nos. 2 and 3 to shoot even so far through six. Bae is one over through six despite a birdie on No. 1.

Fredrik Jacobson started tied with Bae but is at plus-2, taking a double-bogey 6 at the fifth hole.

Josh Teater has gotten out at 3-under through 10 and jumped into a tie for second at 7-under with Webb Simpson and Jacobson.

CBS’ coverage of the third round begins at noon — most likely delayed because of the network’s coverage of the Pitt-Marquette game — and is scheduled to stay on  until 3 p.m. Among the featured players still on the course to capture is Phil Mickelson, who is at even par through the first nine (including birdies at Nos. 1, 8 and 9) and 4-under for the tournament, tied for 14th.

Luke Donald is at plus-2 through seven holes, falling into a tie for 10th.

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5:43 p.m. update at Riviera: Fog, darkness put an end to things

Sergio Garcia finished his round with a birdie 3 on the ninth hole — even though he said he couldn’t see where his tee shot even landed — to move to within one stroke of leader Matt Kuchar as play winded down tonight at the PGA’s Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club.

Garcia’s 6-under 65 came almost six hours after Kuchar carded a 7-under 64 to assume the first-round lead. Both started their rounds with three birdies — Kuchar on holes No. 1, 2 and 3 in the morning group (7:22 a.m. tee time) while Garcia had his on Nos. 10, 11 and 12 with a noon tee time.

Brandt Jobe, in the first group to start play today,remained third at 5-under 66, while Charlie Beljan rallied to tie him in the late afternoon.

The marine layer came as scheduled to settle over the course with the sun trying to peek through as the day was coming to an end. About a dozen golfers remained on the course when play ended at 5:43 p.m. officially. Among those still on the course was former UCLA standout Patrick Cantlay, who was 2-under after 14 holes playing in the final group.

Garcia said he noticed the weather get colder as he was on the seventh tee, with three holes left to play.

“It musta been my fault,” he said with a laugh. “It was a nice day but I could feel it coming on the fifth hole, when I had to put my jacket back on. I was surprised we were able to keep going because there were a couple of holes where we couldn’t see the pin.”


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4:20 p.m. update at Riviera: Kuchar hangs onto the lead with Garcia surging into a tie with Jobe for second

Matt Kuchar waves after making a birdie on the 10th green during the first round of the Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club today. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

Matt Kuchar tends to believe his schedule won’t allow for any paddle boarding, snorkeling or even surfing in the still-chilly Santa Monica Bay during his weekend stay in L.A.

Just as well. He’s already been there and done that in the warmer waters of Hawaii during a recent three-week family vacation.

It’s tough enough trying to keep your balance atop the leader board at the Northern Trust Open.

After having a blast doing “just anything in the water you can think of,” Kutcher said he came back to the PGA Tour thorougly refreshed – which likely explains how he started his first round at Riviera Country Club with three straight birdies en route to a 7-under 64 during cool but otherwise ideal sunshine conditions today.

Among those who found success teeing off  in the afternoon, when the temperatures warmed up to the low 70s according to tour officials and more spectator sightings of shorts and T-shirts, Sergio Garcia made a bold move up the leaderboard as the ocean winds started to kick in.

Garcia, like Kuchar, started with three birdies, but these were on the 10th, 11th and 12th holes. He climbed to five under with a birdie at No. 7, tying him for second with Brandt Jobe.

Tied for fourth at 4-under 67 are David Lynn and James Hahn.

England’s Luke Donald, who carried the highest world golf ranking of anyone in the field at No. 3 and playing in his first U.S. event of the year, made perhaps the shot of the day with a chip-in off the 10th green. He is 1-under after 15.

Kuchar’s bogey-free round that tallied seven birdies in total allowed him to hold a two-shot edge for most of the afternoon over UCLA grad Jobe.

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