After 54 Holes in California, Bubba Watson Has a Slim Lead on a Crowd

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Bubba Watson chipping onto the 18th green at Riviera Country Club.

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Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — Call it a West Coast preview of the Masters. After 54 holes, the Northern Trust Open has a leaderboard that would make the dogwoods at Augusta National stand taller.

The pacesetter, at 12-under-par 201, is Bubba Watson, a two-time Masters winner in search of his second title in three years here at Riviera Country Club. On Saturday, Watson carded a four-under 67, with one bogey, for a one-stroke advantage over Jason Kokrak (70), Chez Reavie (69) and Dustin Johnson (68).

Adam Scott, the 2013 Masters champion, posted a bogey-free 67 and was in a five-way tie for fifth, two strokes back, in a group that included Rory McIlroy, the world No. 3, who also had a 67.

Like Augusta National, Riviera is a shot maker’s course, with gems for greens that demand a jeweler’s steady touch.

“Working really hard to make sure I don’t lose anything from…

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