McGirt jumps to top of leaderboard with hot putter

William McGirt reads his putt on the eighth hole in the third round of the Northern Trust Open.

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PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. – Wiliam McGirt has shot to the top of the leaderboard during the third round of the Northern Trust Open.

After opening with rounds of 69-67, McGirt toured the front nine in 31. He birdied the first three holes before making his lone bogey of the round so far at the fourth. McGirt bounced back with birdies at Nos. 5 and 6 added birdies at Nos. 10 and 11 for good measure.

McGirt, 34, said he was “tickled” with his play during the first two rounds, calling it his first back-to-back good putting rounds of the year.

When asked if he thought Riviera would be a good place for him to notch his first PGA Tour victory, McGirt answered, “It’s a pretty long golf course for me. I have to keep the putter going because I’m not going to hit it stiff with my 4-iron.”

McGirt ranked No. 107 in average driving distance through two rounds, poking it an average of 278 yards. He was paired with Robert Garrigus, one of the longest hitters, in the first two rounds, but it didn’t seem to bother McGirt.

“I told Robert, ‘I just want to play a scramble with you,’” McGirt said.

The firm, fast conditions are allowing short knockers like McGirt to get plenty of extra roll.

“Usually,” he said, “I’m coming into the 18th hole with a 5-wood or long iron. So far, I’ve hit 6-iron in both days. That’s a big difference.”

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