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William McGirt stars at Riviera and takes 54-hole lead for 1st time in his career

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    William McGirt reacts after he made birdie on the first hole in the third round of the Northern Trust Open golf tournament at Riviera Country Club in the Pacific Palisades area of Los Angeles, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon) (The Associated Press)

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    George McNeill saves par on the eighth hole in the third round of the Northern Trust Open golf tournament at Riviera Country Club in the Pacific Palisades area of Los Angeles Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon) (The Associated Press)

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    Sang-Moon Bae, of South Korea, makes his approach from the rough to the ninth green during the third round of the Northern Trust Open golf tournament at Riviera Country Club in the Pacific Palisades area of Los Angeles Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon) (The Associated Press)

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    William McGirt looks over the eighth green during the third round of the Northern Trust Open golf tournament at Riviera Country Club in the Pacific Palisades area of Los Angeles Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon) (The Associated Press)

William McGirt made eight birdies in 13 holes and wound up with a 6-under 65 on Saturday in the Northern Trust Open for a two-shot lead going into the final round.

McGirt has never held a 54-hole lead on the PGA Tour. He had one close call when he was runner-up at the Canadian Open two years ago. With steady play in calm conditions off Sunset Boulevard, he opened up a two-shot lead over George McNeill (66) and Charlie Beljan (68).

The leaderboard was about a crowded as the 405, even without half the lanes closed.

Jason Allred, who hasn't played a PGA Tour event in more than three years and qualified for this event Monday, was three shots behind. Jimmy Walker and Jordan Spieth were among those four back.