Bubba Watson took a brief trip away from the Genesis Open Friday to play a friendly pickup game of basketball.
At the Staples Center. During the NBA’s All-Star Weekend.
Apparently loosened up by his laughable collision with Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady’s blocked shot, Watson returned to golf on Saturday in some of his best form of the past three yeares.
He shot a 6-under 65 and has a 1-stroke lead over Patrick Cantlay headed to Sunday’s final round. He hasn’t won a tournament since wining here at Riviera in 2016.
“The trend is going in the right direction, and that’s what I’m looking for,” Watson said. “If I don’t win tomorrow, or if I do win tomorrow, I’m still going in the right direction.”
Watson eagled No. 1 and had a flurry of four birdies in five holes around the turn. Also shooting a 65 on the day was Australian Cameron Smith, who climbed 12 spots to a tie for third at 8-under.
As impressive as Watson’s performance was on Saturday, it would be hard to miss the pair of pros who sidled their way into the top 10 heading into Sunday: Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas.
Johnson, the defending champion here, soared 44 spots into a tie for eighth with a 64, the low round of the event to date. Just 1-under on the back nine, Johnson eagled No. 1 after the turn and added four birdies.
Thomas shot a 67 to rise seven spots. Phil Mickelson also shot a 67 and is tied for 13th at 5-under.