Published February 15, 2014
LOS ANGELES – Bae Sang-moon and Charlie Beljan both have redemption on their minds at Riviera.
A year ago, Bae had a share of the lead with Fredrik Jacobson going into the weekend of the Northern Trust Open. That didn't last long after a 76 in the third round. The 27-year-old South Korean wound up in a tie for eighth.
Beljan lasted a little longer. He rolled in an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole in regulation to force a playoff, and then missed a 5-foot par putt on the 10th hole to lose to local favorite John Merrick.
Both are back in the hunt going into Saturday.
Bae had a bogey-free round of 5-under 66 on Friday and built a one-shot lead over Aaron Baddeley (65) and Robert Garrigus (67). Beljan had a 68 and was two shots behind.
There were 21 players within five shots of the lead, so this is far from over. But here are five things to look for on the weekend.
BAE IS BACK: Bae made his Riviera debut last year with a solid performance — except for that third round. He was still hanging around the lead until a double bogey on the 17th hole, and closing with a 67 put him three shots behind.
What did he learn?
"Patience," he said.
It paid off eventually, as Bae won his first PGA Tour event a few months later at the Byron Nelson Championship.
BELJAN BOMBER: Beljan likes his chances. Not because he's only two shots behind. And not because only one other guy beat him last year. Beljan believes he is among the best closers on the weekend. His problem is getting there.
"I haven't made too many weekends in my career," he said. "But when I have, I've made the most of them. So looking forward to going out there, free-wheeling it and making some birdies and see where I fall on Sunday."
His record bears that out.
This was only the fourth cut in nine tournaments for Beljan this season. For his entire career, Beljan has made the cut in 19 out of 56 official starts, or roughly 34 percent of the time. That's near the winning percentage of Tiger Woods.
CINDERELLA STORY: Jason Allred last played a PGA Tour event at Pebble Beach — not last week, but in the 2010 U.S. Open.
With his third child about to be born soon, he decided to try Monday to qualify for the Northern Trust Open and earned one of the four spots. He opened with a 73 and it looked as though he might be headed back to Arizona.
Not so fast.
Allred was 9-under par through 14 holes and closing in on the course record when he bogeyed the next two holes. He still had the low round of the tournament, a 64, and goes into the weekend in a tie for ninth, just four shots behind.
"I just kept telling myself, I only get to hit a shot one time, so go hit it the best you can," he said.
OUT THE DOOR: Matt Kuchar played the first two events in Hawaii, then stayed there for an additional month on the Big Island.
He returned to the PGA Tour this week and promptly missed the cut. This is noteworthy only because Kuchar has been a fixture on the weekend. The last time he missed the cut was in the 2012 PGA Championship with an 82 in the wind-blown second round. That was 30 straight cuts, which had been the longest active streak on tour.
The current streak now belongs to Adam Scott, who has made 28 straight cuts. Scott needs only 114 straight cuts to match the record set by Tiger Woods.
Far more painful was the cut missed by Rickie Fowler, with a bogey on his last hole and a three-putt bogey from 4 feet on the opening hole. Fowler has missed the cut twice in three tournaments this year.
As for real pain? That would be Fred Couples, who had a small cut on his left thumb break open and leave an open sore. He struggled to hang onto the club, and a bogey on the final hole cost him.
GARRIGUS: Robert Garrigus has never been fond of Riviera, having made the cut only once in four previous trips. He decided to change his attitude and convince himself that the fabled course was among his favorites. It might be working. He shot 67 and was one shot out of the lead.
Disappointment awaits, however, and it has nothing to do with the weekend.
"I kind of added this tournament late on my schedule about Sunday night," he said. "I decided I was going to fly down here and give it a shot because I want to get into the Match Play and I think I have to win to do that."
Bad news: The Match Play field for next week in Arizona is closed. Garrigus couldn't get in even if he were to win.
A victory would get him into the Masters. That wouldn't be such a bad consolation.