Australian Adam Scott, Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland and American Matt Kuchar share the lead entering Sunday’s final round of the $9.3 million The Genesis Invitational.
Americans Russell Henley and Harold Varner III are tied for second, one stroke behind the leaders. Five other golfers are within three strokes of the lead. The winner will receive $1.674 million and the first SUV from Genesis, the GV8.
Scott birdied the 18th hole Saturday to move into a three-way tie for the lead. He entered the third round among four golfers tied for fifth, three strokes off Kuchar’s lead, then fired a four-under-par 67 at The Riviera Country Club.
Scott bogeyed the second and fifth holes, then began a string of four birdies in five holes on the seventh hole. He sunk a 9-foot, 4-inch putt on the 18th hole for his sixth birdie of the round.
“It was a bit of a slow start and then, kind of really put it all together from seven onwards,” said Scott, who also birdied the third hole. “I was very happy with how that was. If I can replicate that for 18 holes (Sunday), I’ll be very pleased no matter what happens, but I’ll definitely be giving myself a chance at it.”
Scott was declared the winner of the 2005 Nissan Open, as The Genesis Invitational was then known, but it was not recognized as an official victory because the tournament was shortened to 36 holes because of rain.
“I remember spending the most amount of time ever in a locker room that week,” Scott said. “It was at least two days of eight hours sitting in the locker room and just waiting around.
“Then Monday, I think they were looking at trying to tee guys off for a round and at least have a third round, but maybe a group teed off and after a hole … it was still raining a bit and they said the course is so unplayable.
“I guess it was good that it was called off. And then you win and then you’re told it’s not a win, that was not so good. Even though I had the trophy, it’s not official. Maybe at the time it would have been better to try to plug it out for an official win, but it was still fun, fun to take a trophy home and kind of be a champion here.”
The 39-year-old Scott said what happened in 2005 provides “just a bit of motivation for me to win (Sunday) here and have an official victory at Riviera.”
“I think that would be extremely satisfying for me,” said Scott, a 13-time winner on the PGA Tour, including the 2013 Masters.
Kuchar shot a 1-under-par 70 with bogeys on the 13th, 15th and 16th holes and four birdies, the last on the 17th hole. He also led at the end of the first round.
McIlroy had four birdies and a bogey on the 14th hole for a 3-under-par 68 to drop to 10-under-par 203 for the tournament, his first since reclaiming the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking last Sunday.
“I hit it well all day, especially at the start of the round, but I felt like every time I hit a decent shot, I left myself on the wrong side of the hole,” said McIlroy, who began Saturday’s play among three golfers tied for second, two strokes off the lead.
“The putts that I had were very defensive, downhill, big breakers, trying to play enough break, trying to die them in, and especially on this golf course, they’re very tricky, very difficult to make.
“So just kept telling myself to stay patient and I felt like my patience was rewarded with the two birdies on the eighth and the ninth hole. Ended up turning in 3-under even though I missed a few chances.”
Tiger Woods shot a 5-over-par 76, including a double-bogey six on the 13th hole, the result of a four-putt, his 14th on the PGA Tour. Woods is tied for 63rd among the 68 players remaining in the tournament, 15 strokes off the lead at 5-over-par 218.
The Genesis Invitational is Woods’ second attempt to break his tie with the late Sam Snead with 82 victories on the PGA Tour to become its winningest player.
In his other attempt, he was among six golfers tying for ninth, sixth strokes behind Australian Marc Leishman in the Farmers Insurance Open, which concluded Jan. 26.
Woods has never won in his 12 previous appearances at Riviera, 10 as a professional and two as a teenage amateur.
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