LOS ANGELES (AP) Retief Goosen made only two pars on the back nine Saturday at Riviera and survived a day of wild shots and bad breaks for a 2-under 69 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Northern Trust Open.
The 46-year-old Goosen wasn’t sure how his nerves would hold up because he had not been a 36-hole leader in more than four years, and he is approaching the six-year anniversary of his last victory. Those nerves were tested at Riviera, which is getting increasingly difficult on the greens.
Goosen was flawless on the front nine before he strapped in for a rough ride over the final two hours. He hit a tee shot into the trees on the 12th and 13th holes, both times making bogey. He had to make an 8-foot bogey putt to stay in the lead.
And then he recovered with a chip-in from 35 feet on the par-3 16th for birdie, and then a two-putt birdie on the downwind par-5 17th.
Goosen was at 8-under 205, two shots clear of Graham DeLaet of Canada, who had a 70.
Bae Sang-Moon of South Korea matched the low score of the week with a 66 and was in a large group at 5-under 208. That included Sergio Garcia, whose remarkable par on the 13th hole was set up by a 3-iron from a bunker behind the 10th green.
Ryan Moore, whose tee shot on the 286-yard 10th hole rolled over the cup and off the green, was preparing for a long putt up the slope when Garcia’s tee shot on No. 13 landed with a thud behind him and went into a bunker.
“I didn’t know anybody was on the 10th hole,” Garcia said. “I mean, I didn’t even know where my ball was going.”
The trick was figuring out where to go next. The TV towers on the 10th hole blocked his view to the green, but because he was in a bunker, his only relief was against the back lip. Garcia grabbed a 3-iron and drilled it through a tiny gap in the eucalyptus trees, just short of the green. His chip came up 25 feet short, and he made it for par.
Garcia birdied only the 17th on the back nine and shot 68, putting him in contention in his first U.S. tournament of the year.
Carlos Ortiz of Mexico also had a 68 and will play with Garcia, one of his mentors on tour. J.B. Holmes shot a 69 and joined them at 208.
Defending champion Bubba Watson is hanging around. He shot 70 and joined seven others at 4-under 209, still in range just four shots behind. The group included Vijay Singh (69), who turns 52 on Sunday, Dustin Johnson (67), Jim Furyk (68), Jordan Spieth (70) and Angel Cabrera (71).
Also in that group was Ryan Moore, who started the round one shot behind and shot a 72.
Moore’s drive on the 10th was close to perfect and ran over the back of the cup. It was an inch away from hitting the flag and possibly dropping for a hole-in-one, but the cup didn’t slow it enough to keep from running off the back of the green. He wound up with a par.
Then, Moore’s tee shot on the par-3 16th hit the flag and caromed off the green. He made that one from the fringe for a birdie. Even so, he was among 13 players within four shots of the lead.