78° Good Morning
78° Good Morning

Bill Haas shoots 64 to lead at Riviera

Bill Haas drives on the 14th tee in

Bill Haas drives on the 14th tee in the third round of the Northern Trust Open golf tournament at Riviera Country Club in the Pacific Palisades area of Los Angeles. (Feb. 16, 2013) Credit: AP

PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. -- There's a statue of Ben Hogan next to the practice green. There are photos of Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Gregory Peck and Katherine Hepburn on the walls of the old Spanish style clubhouse. Riviera Country Club is a site of history, and Bill Haas is trying to create more.

Haas, the defending champion, shot a 7-under par 64 Saturday and took a 3-shot lead after three rounds of the Northern Trust Open.

"Bill shooting 7-under is incredible out there," said his friend, Webb Simpson, the U.S., Open champion. "I mean, it was very tough."

His round featured an eagle 2 on the captivating and often irritating little par 4 10th hole when he chipped in, five birdies and no bogeys. That put him at 12-under 201 for 54 holes.

Simpson (68) 2011 Masters winner Charl Schwartzel (68) and John Merrick, a local who played at nearby UCLA (70) are tied at 9-under.

Hogan, Corey Pavin and Phil Mickelson -- who is a 3-under 210 this time -- won the event, long known as the Los Angeles Open, back-to-back. Haas, 30, has the chance.

"You hear a lot of people out there yelling, 'Do it again,' which is nice," Haas said. "It gives you some good mojo."

A year ago Haas, whose father, Jay, and uncle, Bob Goalby were longtime stars ( Goalby won the 1968 Masters) entered the final round two strokes behind. But he tied Mickelson and Keegan Bradley, then beat them in a sudden-death playoff.

"I've just got to stay in the moment," said Haas about holding his lead. "The guys behind me are going to make birdies, and it will certainly get closer at the top."

Simpson, as Haas, played at Wake Forest but entered the year after Haas left. "He's been like a big brother to me," said Simpson, who will be in the final group Sunday with Haas and Schwartzel. "It should be fun. We'll have a good time."

Riviera is known for good times. Built in a canyon a mile from the Pacific, Riviera's membership rolls over the years included Martin, Hepburn and Peck, Humphrey Bogart, Errol Flynn and even O.J. Simpson. It was the comedian W.C. Fields who insisted, "The only easy shot on the course is the first one at the 19th hole."

Bill Haas disagrees." I like everything about [Riviera]," he said, "the course, the grass, how it's an old school course. Walking in the locker room and seeing the pictures of all those champions on the wall; It's just got a great feel to it."

With the temperature climbing into the high 70s -- the weather is to change today -- the course played fast and, despite Haas' round, difficult.

"I had a couple of putts I've never had here before," said Simpson. "It makes you a little more tentative."

Schwartzel, the South African, said it is hard to keep bogeys off the card. "You need to be on song your whole game," he said.

That would have worked well for Dean Martin.

New York Sports