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Northern Trust Open: Couples sole leader after three holes

February 20, 2011 | 11:33 am

Couples_250 Fred Couples, a two-time winner at Riviera Country Club and a 51-year-old with determined hopes to join Arnold Palmer and Ben Hogan as the only three-time winners of the Northern Trust Open, has birdied his first three holes of the final round and is now alone in first place at 12-under par.

Couples reached the green in two on the short par-five first hole and easily two-putted for his birdie. On the par-four second he chipped in from just off the green, and on the third he calmly sank an 11-foot birdie putt just after third-round leader Aaron Baddeley had come up an inch or two short on his 15-foot birdie attempt.

Kevin Na of Rancho Cucamonga, playing in the final group with Couples and Baddeley, bogeyed the second hole and has fallen into a tie for third with Vijay Singh, three shots behind Couples. Baddeley is one shot behind the leader.

After being plagued by rain often during the second and third rounds, Sunday is clear, the temperature is about 60 and the winds, though sometimes gusty, don't seem to be making a difference.

--Diane Pucin

Photo: Fred Couples at the No. 18 green on Saturday during the third round of the Northern Trust Open. Credit: Harry How / Getty Images