McGirt moves ahead at Northern Trust Open

The Sports NetworkFebruary 14, 2014 

Pacific Palisades, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - William McGirt fired a 6-under 65 on Saturday to claim a 2-stroke lead at the Northern Trust Open.

McGirt, who will try for his first career win on the PGA Tour Sunday, finished 54 holes at Riviera Country Club at 12-under-par 201.

"I'll take 65 any day, especially around this place," McGirt said. "I've just got to try to hit fairways and greens, and take advantage of my opportunities when I get them."

George McNeill (66) and Charlie Beljan (68) shared second place at 10-under, while Jason Allred (67) and Brian Harman (68) are tied for fourth at minus-9.

Second-round leader Sang-Moon Bae tripped to a 1-over 72 during his third round to drop into a share of sixth place with Bubba Watson (64), Cameron Tringale (67), Jimmy Walker (68), Jordan Spieth (67), Charl Schwartzel (68) and Dustin Johnson (69) at 8-under 205.

Bae entered the third round with a 1-stroke lead, and birdied the first to maintain that advantage over Harman, who followed an eagle at the first with a birdie at the second to move to 9-under.

Bae tripped to a bogey at the fourth to lose sole possession of first, and Harman took advantage with a 17-foot birdie putt at the fifth to claim the outright lead.

Harman added a short birdie effort at the sixth to move to 11-under.

McGirt, meanwhile, opened his round with birdie putts of five, 19 and 26 feet over his first three holes to move to 9-under.

After a bogey at the fourth briefly halted his momentum, McGirt converted back-to-back birdie putts, starting with a 25-foot effort at the fifth, to pull within a shot of Harman.

Harman then bogeyed the seventh to lose sole possession of the lead before McGirt stuck his second shot at the 10th within a foot and kicked in the short birdie to claim the lead for good at 11-under.

McGirt would add birdie putts of five and 10 feet at the 11th and 13th, respectively, to move three clear of the field at 13-under as Harman fell behind with bogeys at the 14th and 15th.

McGirt bogeyed the 15th to fall back to 12-under and parred his final three holes to end there.

"(The course) is playing really well this week. The fairways have finally firmed up. I've never seen them this firm," said McGirt.

McNeill countered a bogey with an eagle and four birdies to claim his share of second place, while Beljan recorded an eagle, three birdies and two bogeys to meet McNeill at 10-under.

NOTES: McGirt holds the third-round lead for the first time in 96 career starts on tour ... McGirt is trying to be the third first-time winner this season, joining Walker and Kevin Stadler ... Beljan was the runner-up at this event last season ... McGirt's best finish of his career was a share of second at the 2012 and 2013 RBC Canadian Open.

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