Donald leads chase as Stricker strikes

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Luke Donald led the chase on Saturday as Steve Stricker threatened to run away with the rain-delayed Northern Trust Open.

England’s Luke Donald led the chase on Saturday as Steve Stricker threatened to run away with the rain-delayed Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club.
Stricker, the runner-up behind Phil Mickelson 12 months ago here in Pacific Palisades in Los Angeles, had a five-shot lead over the field when play was suspended for the second night in a row due to darkness after another rainy day in Los Angeles.
The USA’s world number three was four under for the day and 14 under for the tournament after playing 14 holes of his third round before time was called on a day that had begun with 41 players still playing their second rounds.
England’s Donald was one of the late finishers returning to a par-71 course that had seen three inches of rainfall overnight on Friday, completing a one-under-par second round of 70 to get to four under and then turning straight around to move to nine under after 18 bogey-free holes and a five-under third-round 66.
That put Donald, bidding for a first victory since the 2006 Honda Classic, in a tie for second with Andres Romero of Argentina, who had played 14 holes bogey-free but with just one birdie, and American JB Holmes, who had carded a five-birdie, one-bogey 67.
Dustin Johnson, the 36-hole leader, was on eight under after 14 holes, three over for his third round with four holes to play. Also on eight under were fellow Americans George McNeill (66), and Kevin Stadler, who had each played 15 holes.
US Ryder Cup star Anthony Kim had been going well at nine under until back-to-back bogeys at the 15th and 16th left him at seven under with one to play.
Englishman Justin Rose had got into contention with a second-round 67 that got him to six under but the Ryder Cup man was unable to make further progress and was one over for his third round after 15 holes.
Mickelson, bidding for a third title in a row at Riviera, was another unable to keep pace with the leaders as he carded a level-par 71 to hold steady at four under for the tournament, with England’s Brian Davis on three under having completed a 68.
Scotland’s Martin Laird had resumed his second round in the morning, with a late birdie taking him to two over to hold on for a second 72 in succession and make the cut on the mark.
The Glaswegian’s third round saw him open with a double bogey at the par-three 10th before recovering to one under for the day to get to one over par after 16 holes, in part thanks to an eagle three at the first hole, his 10th.
Padraig Harrington, however, was left to rue a bogey on his penultimate hole as he missed the halfway cut by a stroke.
Ireland’s three-time major winner was making his seasonal debut at Riviera Country Club near Los Angeles and opened his account with a one-over-par 73.
His second round got off to an encouraging start on a rainy Friday with two birdies, but as the day wore on four bogeys followed. A birdie at the 16th had given Harrington some traction only for play to be brought to a close on Friday night with the Irishman on two over par with two to play.
The wait did Harrington no favours and he bogeyed the 17th on the way to a 73 to slip to three over and out of the tournament.

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