McGirt takes lead at Riviera
A city known for its star power has a PGA Tour event filled with fairy tales off Sunset Boulevard.
Start with William McGirt, who ran off eight birdies in 13 holes at Riviera on his way to a 6-under 65 on Saturday to build a two-shot lead in the Northern Trust Open. Going into his fourth full season, McGirt has never won on the PGA Tour. His last victory was on the eGolf Tour in the Carolinas, where the $16,000 winner’s check paid off his credit cards. Asked to name the mini-tours he played, McGirt said he would run out of fingers and toes counting them.
“When you’re around mini-tours for eight years and go through a bunch of heartaches at Q-school, once you finally get here, you really have to appreciate it,” he said.
He was at 12-under 201, two shots ahead of George McNeill (66) and Charlie Beljan (68).
McNeill was working in a pro shop until giving the tour one last shot, and it already has produced two wins, though neither was enough to get into the Masters. Beljan lost in a playoff at Riviera last year. He is best known for being wheeled off the course at Disney on a stretcher because of a panic attack, and winning two days later.
And then there’s Jason Allred.
He hasn’t played a PGA Tour event since qualifying for the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. His wife is due with their third child at the end of the month, so Allred came over to try to Monday qualify. After opening with a 73, he followed with a 64 on Friday and a 67 on Saturday and now is just three shots behind.
A victory would give him a two-year exemption, trips to the Masters and PGA Championship, Kapalua and Bay Hill and the Memorial and Firestone, even Shanghai.
He got choked up talking about support from his wife and the treat to be able to have a week like this.
“Making the putt on 18 is probably the most excitement I felt from the crowd ever in my career,” said Allred, who holed a 10-footer on the final hole. “I can’t tell you how much it means to me to be able to be at a place in my life. I just have so much to be thankful for with my amazing family. It just feels great to be out here and soak it up.”
One of them could emerge a big winner today, though there are plenty of stars right behind them. The group at 8-under 205 featured Jordan Spieth (67), Dustin Johnson (69) and Jimmy Walker (67).