Northern Trust Open 2013: Day 3 Leaderboard Analysis, Highlights and More

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIIFebruary 16, 2013

PACIFIC PALISADES, CA - FEBRUARY 16:  Bill Haas watches his tee shot on the second hole during the third round of the Northern Trust Open at the Riviera Country Club on February 16, 2013 in Pacific Palisades, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Defending champion Bill Haas fired a seven under-par round of 64 to grab a three-shot advantage over Webb Simpson, Charl Schwartzel and John Merrick after Day 3 at the Northern Trust Open.

Haas now stands at 12-under for the tournament and began the third round four strokes behind joint leaders Jacobson and Sang-Moon Bae.

But Haas' surge out to the front was a particularly scintillating stretch in the middle of the round.

After birdieing No. 9 to make the turn at three-under, the 2011 FedEx Cup champion chipped in for eagle at the short par-four 10th hole, then followed it with a routine birdie at the par-five 11th. Steady play and stellar scrambling characterized the remainder of the round until a phenomenal up-and-down out of the par-five No. 17 greenside bunker netted Haas another birdie.

Australian AP golf writer Benjamin Everill pointed out just how sensational Haas' play was compared to the rest of the field.

Overall, Riviera's course conditions are yielding slightly lower scores than last season. Haas matched Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley at seven under-par in regulation before draining a 40-foot putt in the playoff to clinch victory in 2012.

Golf Channel's Jason Sobel has an interesting theory as to why Haas has been so successful at this venue:

As for the others in contention, Simpson and Schwartzel sit at nine-under after matching three-under rounds of 68. Simpson is looking to shake off a mediocre start to 2013, while Schwartzel is continuing his outstanding recent return to form.

Merrick, seeking his first Tour win, started with a bang at the opening hole, as he stuck his second shot to the par five to inside 10 feet and drained the eagle putt. Two bogeys followed thereafter, unfortunately, but he carded another eagle at No. 11 and wound up with a round of 70.

Also not to be counted out is Luke Donald, who is just four off the pace and made four birdies on the back nine. Sergio Garcia and Hunter Mahan are big names with an outside chance at six-under.

Here is a look at some of the best highlights from Saturday's action, courtesy of

This was the turning point of Haas' round and the tournament, as he chips in just short of the green for an eagle at No. 10 to seize an outright lead that he wouldn't relinquish.

If the above Haas highlight isn't the shot of the day, this amazing recovery from Luke Donald is. Despite a tree obstructing his sight line, the highest-ranked player in this event bends this 232-yard approach and stiffs it to three feet at the par-four 13th.

An eagle at the first didn't give Merrick the expected momentum, but he revitalized his chances by canning this 46-foot bomb at the par-five No. 11.

Below is a look at the top of the leaderboard after 54 holes. For complete scores, check out

Position Player Rounds Total
1 Bill Haas
70-67-64 -12
T2 John Merrick 68-66-70 -10
T2 Webb Simpson
70-66-68 -9
T2 Charl Schwartzel 69-67-68 -9
T5 Luke Donald
T5 Fredrik Jacobson 68-65-72 -8
T7 Josh Teater
70-68-68 -7
T7 Charlie Beljan
67-71-68 -7
T9 Sergio Garcia
65-73-69 -6
T9 Hunter Mahan
70-69-68 -6


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