LOS ANGELES — Sang-Moon Bae is off to another great start at the Northern Trust Open. The next step is a better finish.
Bae played bogey-free Friday on another gorgeous day at Riviera for a 5-under 66, giving him a one-shot lead over Aaron Baddeley and Robert Garrigus going into the weekend.
Baddeley, who hasn’t won since Riviera three years ago, birdied his last four holes for a 65. Garrigus played in the afternoon, when it’s a little more difficult to make putts, and managed just fine with a 67.
Bae was at 9-under 133.
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The 27-year-old South Korean was tied for the lead going into the weekend at Riviera last year. Bae struggled to a 76 in the third round and never got back into contention.
“It was really, really good experience, and I learned a lot,” Bae said. “I improved a lot from last year.”
He wound up winning the Byron Nelson Championship a few months later for his first PGA Tour victory.
Patience surely will be required at some point over the weekend on what has shaped up as one of the best weeks of weather at Riviera — an abundance of sunshine and only a trace of wind.
The tournament remains wide open, with 22 players separated by only five shots.
One of them is Dustin Johnson, who led after the first round and opened with two quick birdies. Johnson never made any more progress, however. He had to settle for a 70 and was three behind at 6-under 136.
“I played pretty solid today, just hit a couple of bad drivers on the back. But that’s going to happen,” Johnson said. “But I still had a lot of really good looks at birdie and just couldn’t capitalize on any of them.”
Seattle’s Fred Couples had a tiny cut on the tip of his left thumb that opened up to the size of a dime, making it difficult for him to hang on to the club. Couples has gone his entire Hall of Fame career without wearing a glove.
Asked if it bothered him, he said, “Yeah. I couldn’t hit the ball.”
Couples made his 32nd appearance in this tournament, but will miss the cut at 2-over 144.
Former UW Husky Richard H. Lee was tied for 40th at 1 over after a 72, and Michael Putnam from University Place was tied for 55th with two holes remaining at even par. He was one of six players who did not complete their rounds.
Puyallup’s Ryan Moore and Gig Harbor’s Kyle Stanley will miss the cut.
• Defending champion Bernhard Langer shot an 8-under 64 to take a one-stroke lead after the first round of the ACE Group Classic in Naples, Fla.
Pullman High grad Kirk Triplett was tied for fourth after a 67.
• Sweden’s Caroline Hedwall had a hole-in-one and finished with a 7-under 65 to take the second-round lead in the Women’s Australian Open in Melbourne. The Solheim Cup star aced the 160-yard par-3 16th, eagled the par-5 eighth to reach 11-under 133, one shot ahead of second-ranked Suzann Pettersen of Norway.