Graeme McDowell two off the lead as Bubba Watson cards 65 at Riviera

Rory McIlroy slips back at Genesis Open after carding 73

Graeme McDowell drives from the 14th tee during the third round of the Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, California. Photograph: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Graeme McDowell drives from the 14th tee during the third round of the Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, California. Photograph: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

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Graeme McDowell slipped two shots off the lead at the Genesis Open in Los Angeles on Saturday as Bubba Watson secured a one-shot lead after a six-under 65 at Riviera Country Club.

Watson, back in business with a new ball on a course where he has won twice before, moved to 10 under, one shot ahead of fellow American Patrick Cantlay (69), who curled a 55-foot birdie putt into the middle of the hole at the par-four 18th.

McDowell, playing alongside Cantley in the final group, wasted a brilliant approach to the final hole with a poor first putt that saw him having to drain a tricky putt for par as he signed for a one-under 70 to move to eight under.

Rory McIlroy struggled to a two-over 73 to move back to level par for the tournament, while Pádraig Harrington is two over after a level-par 71.

McDowell shares third position with Americans Kevin Na and Tony Finau and Australia Cameron Smith.

Watson, whose wife was a professional basketballer, played in the NBA All-Star weekend celebrity game in Los Angeles on Friday.

Back at home on grass instead of hardwood, he started his third round in style with a tap-in eagle at the par-five first, but acknowledged it was a tough slog the rest of the way.

“It was a grind full time,” said the 39-year-old, who won at Riviera in 2014 and 2016. “It was easy when you have a tap in. Then I just hung on the rest of the time.”

Watson has slipped to 117th in the world rankings after an ill-fated experiment in 2017 with a different brand of ball.

He has not exactly set the world on fire in three previous starts this year but hopes to stay on an emotional even keel in the final round.

“You’ve got to know that this golf course is going to make you mess up, the grass, the way the ball bounces on it, you’re going to have shots you think are perfect and ended up not perfect,” he said.

“But it’s golf, not just this week but every week. You’re going to know you’re going to make a mistake, especially on a Sunday, and you’ve got to keep fighting and hopefully your fight is better than everybody else’s fight.”

SCOREBOARD

(USA unless stated, par 71):

203 Bubba Watson 68 70 65

204 Patrick Cantlay 66 69 69

205 Tony Finau 66 71 68, Kevin Na 68 70 67, Cameron Smith (Aus) 72 68 65, Graeme McDowell (NI) 69 66 70

206 Derek Fathauer 68 70 68

207 Dustin Johnson 74 69 64, Aaron Baddeley (Aus) 72 68 67, Justin Thomas 69 71 67, Scott Stallings 71 68 68, Ryan Moore 68 68 71

208 Phil Mickelson 70 71 67, Sam Saunders 67 69 72, Anirban Lahiri (Ind) 72 69 67

209 Jason Kokrak 68 72 69, Xander Schauffele 71 70 68, James Hahn 70 69 70, Martin Laird (Sco) 68 73 68

210 Talor Gooch 73 70 67, Vaughn Taylor 72 70 68, Adam Hadwin (Can) 70 74 66, Kevin Chappell 69 71 70, Jordan Spieth 71 70 69, Jonas Blixt (Swe) 71 71 68

211 Bud Cauley 70 72 69, Pat Perez 72 70 69, Alex Noren (Swe) 71 69 71, Sung Kang (Kor) 70 72 69, Branden Grace (Rsa) 70 72 69, Jamie Lovemark 68 70 73, Tom Hoge 67 73 71, Kevin Streelman 72 70 69, Haotong Li (Can) 71 71 69, Troy Merritt 68 71 72, Dominic Bozzelli 67 75 69

212 Luke List 72 71 69, Peter Uihlein 70 73 69, Bryson DeChambeau 71 69 72, John Huh 70 72 70, Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Esp) 72 67 73

213 Charley Hoffman 75 69 69, Benjamin Silverman (Can) 72 71 70, Austin Cook 74 66 73, Matt Kuchar 73 71 69, Charles Howell III 74 70 69, Rory McIlroy (NI) 71 69 73, Ryan Blaum 71 70 72, Patrick Rodgers 70 71 72, Thomas Pieters (Bel) 71 71 71

214 Brendan Steele 72 71 71, Retief Goosen (Rsa) 68 71 75, Tommy Fleetwood (Eng) 70 71 73

215 Adam Schenk 76 67 72, Adam Scott (Aus) 72 72 71, Harold Varner III 73 70 72, Martin Kaymer (Ger) 73 67 75, Kelly Kraft 71 72 72, Vijay Singh (Fji) 72 70 73, J.B. Holmes 71 71 73, Paul Casey (Eng) 73 71 71, Luke Donald (Eng) 71 72 72, Pádraig Harrington (Irl) 71 73 71, Brandon Harkins 71 70 74

216 Abraham Ancer (Mex) 72 69 75, Sean O’Hair 71 72 73, Greg Chalmers (Aus) 73 69 74, Ryan Armour 71 71 74, Nick Taylor (Can) 71 71 74

217 Chad Campbell 73 71 73, Charl Schwartzel (Rsa) 71 73 73, Sang-moon Bae (Kor) 73 71 73, Tyrone Van Aswegen (Rsa) 70 72 75

219 Martin Piller 72 72 75

220 David Lingmerth (Swe) 73 71 76

221 Chez Reavie 68 76 77

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