Bubba Watson takes lead with 65 at Genesis Open

Bubba Watson takes lead with 65 at Genesis Open

"It was a grind the whole time", Watson told CBS Sports after the round. I must have covered this event about a dozen times but there has never been a buzz like the one over the first two days. "It was a fun day".

Countryman Patrick Cantlay, who was tied for the lead alongside Graeme McDowell following round two, dropped to second with back-to-back 69s.

Cantlay is 9-under following a 69 on Saturday and will be paired with Watson in the final group.

Needing a hot result in Los Angeles to secure a start at the World Golf Championships event in Mexico in two weeks, Smith will start the third round five shots off the lead. Derek Fathauer, who holed out from the fairway on the third hole, is another shot back.

"I played well today", said Cantlay, who was in the clubhouse with a seven-under-par total of 135.

"I was going through a motivational spell past year, after I won (the US Tour's) Zurich Classic; I lost my drive a little but he's given me a lot of advice on resetting your goals. It's nice to be back competing again and to be able to go out there and play, practice after each round - something I haven't done in years - keep building", he said. The disappointing play left the 14-times major champion at six-over 148, four strokes over the projected cut of +2. "You could see how pumped I was".

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Defending champion Dustin Johnson shot a 2-under-par 69, advancing from a tie for 107th place to a tie for 52nd. Just as his second round was starting, the Honda Classic announced he would be playing next week at PGA National in Florida.

Woods said he was "very pleased" and "very excited" about playing two weeks in a row. I am progressing, I'm starting to get a feel for tournament golf again.

"I thought I could pump a drive down there at 11 and get to it with an iron and turn the tide around and play a good solid back nine", Woods said. He shot a 70 and was at 4-under 138, and then headed for the NBA All-Star weekend to play in the celebrity game. On Sunday he will attempt to add to his victories at Riviera in 2014 and 2016, when it was called the Northern Trust Open.

Helping his final-day charge is Watson's PGA Tour conversion rate of just three from his past 10 leads after 54 holes.

"You've got to know that this golf course is going to make you mess up, the grass, the way the ball bounces on it, you're going to have shots you think are ideal and ended up not flawless".

"You've got to hit shots from every different angle; you've got to move it right to left and left to right, so it's just fun", he said.