Charging Haas takes control at Riviera

Sat Feb 16, 2013 7:36pm EST
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

PACIFIC PALISADES, California (Reuters) - Defending champion Bill Haas, lifted by a spectacular eagle at the par-four 10th, burst out into a three-shot lead in the third round of the Northern Trust Open on Saturday.

On a tricky day for scoring at a sun-baked Riviera Country Club, American Haas fired a sizzling seven-under-par 64 to take a firm grip on the tournament.

Aiming to become the eighth player to win back-to-back titles at the PGA Tour event, Haas produced flawless golf on a firm and fast-running layout to post a 12-under total of 201.

The 30-year-old narrowly missed an eight-foot birdie putt at the par-four last and had to settle for matching the week's best score, Matt Kuchar's 64 in the opening round.

"I'm very pleased obviously," Haas told reporters after soaring to the top of the leaderboard with five birdies and one eagle, a chip-in from 58 feet at the driveable but treacherous 10th.

"I was just kind of plugging along out there and then all of a sudden I made a nice putt at nine, a chip-in at 10 and a good up-and-down at 11.

"I certainly would have liked to make that putt on 18 after a nice drive and a nice second shot but, overall, I'm very pleased."

Fellow American John Merrick recorded two eagles and trailed Haas by just two shots with one hole to play before bogeying the last for a 70 to slip back into a three-way tie for second.   Continued...

Bill Haas of the U.S. tees off on the 12th hole during the third round of the Northern Trust Open golf tournament at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles February 16, 2013. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok