If you are looking for top PGA Tour stars at The Northern Trust Open on Sunday when they tee off at Riviera Country Club, you’ll have to tune in early. The later tee-times for the finale’ are reserved for a host of little known players. William McGirt rolled in eight birdies in a 13 hole run on Saturday afternoon, got in the clubhouse with a -6 under par 65, and a two shot lead. Who is William McGirt?
In fact, you will have to go down the leaderboard a ways before you find some names that you recognize like Three-time winner Jimmy Walker, Bubba Watson, and Jordan Spieth. They are all at -8 under par, and tied for sixth place, four strokes off the pace.
William McGirt is a 34 year-old journeyman golfer, and is in his fourth year on the tour. His only win came on the eTour where he made enough money($16,000) which he used to payoff his credit cards. And here he is teeing it up in the final group on Sunday at a prestigious PGA Tour stop. McGirt is from Lumberton, North Carolina, and attended Wofford College.
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“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.
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.
George McNeill and 2012 Children’s Miracle Network Champion, Charlie Beljan are sitting two strokes back at -10 under par, and have a one-shot lead over Jason Aldred, and Brian Harman.
If McGirt wants to secure his first PGA Tour victory, he will need to get off to a good start on Sunday. There are some seasoned Tour players lurking just four back at -8 under par. This is where the challenge should come, so the four-shot gap will close quickly if he stumbles out of the gate on Sunday.
2012 Masters Champ, Bubba Watson made a run on moving day, putting up a good number of his own. Bubba fired the low round of the day, and carded a -7 under 64 on the par 71 layout, climbed 34 spots, and back into this final event on the West Coast Swing.
Watson is in a seven-way tie for the sixth position with Jimmy Walker, Cameron Tringale, Jordan Spieth, 2011 Masters Champ, Charl Schwartzel, Dustin Johnson, and 36-hole leader, Sang Moon Bae. It’s a loaded line-up, so McGirt will need his A-Game for one more day if he wants that first win.
Sang Moon Bae fell on hard times on Saturday, and is the only one in the top ten that shot over par on Saturday. The 2013 Byron Nelson Open Champ shot a one-over 72 on a day when everyone else was going the other direction. I look for the young South Korean to be back in the mix on Sunday, and a factor before it’s over.
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