Back to his day job, Bubba Watson started with a tap-in eagle and finished with a 6-under-par 65 to build a one-shot lead Saturday in the Genesis Open.
Yes, golf is much easier for him that basketball.
And the highlights are going to look a lot better than when he took part in the NBA All-Star celebrity challenge Friday night.
Watson fired an air ball from just inside the top of the key. He passed up an open jumper to drive toward the basketball, only for Tracy McGrady to reject him.
Watson looked much more efficient swinging a golf club.
He was at 10-under-par 2013 as he tries to end a slump that dates to his last victory two years ago at Riviera. Sunday will be the first time he has had the lead going into the final round since that event.
‘‘The trend is going in the right direction, and that’s what I'm looking for,’’ Watson said. ‘‘If I don’t win tomorrow, or if I do win tomorrow, I'm still going in the right direction.’’
He will be in the final group with Patrick Cantlay, the former No. 1 amateur in the world and polar opposite of Watson.
Cantlay thrives on his ability to keep his head on the shot in front of him, and to keep his emotions from swinging too much in either direction. He ended his round with a 55-foot birdie putt for a 69 to get within one shot of Watson.
Cameron Smith (65), Kevin Na (67), Graeme McDowell (70), and Tony Finau (68) were two shots back.
Suddenly in the mix was defending champion Dustin Johnson, who was going nowhere until he made the turn and had a quick chat with Austin, his brother and caddie.
‘‘I looked over at AJ and I said, ‘We've got 27 holes to see how good we are. We can get back in this thing if we play really well,'’’ Johnson said. He made eagle on his way to a 29 on the front for a 64, and Johnson wound up four shots off the lead.
When the second round finished early Saturday, Cantlay and Graeme McDowell shared the lead at 7-under 135.
Sam Saunders was tied for the lead until he made bogey on his final hole for a 69. He was one shot behind, along with Ryan Moore.
Watson shot a 1-under 70 in the second round, tied for seventh place, before making his way to the LA Convention Center to play for Team Clippers.
Watson said before the basketball game that he got some grief from his fellow golfers about taking up a second sport while in contention.
‘‘When you have a chance to win like that, why would you still want to come over here? Cause life is short,’’ said Watson, who had 2 points, three rebounds, one assist, and one steal. ‘‘Life is fun, man, and so I want to be here.’’
LPGA — Jin Young Ko continued her domination of the Women’s Australian Open, shooting a 1-under 71 to increase her lead to four strokes after three rounds in Adelaide.
Ko, who led after each of the opening two rounds, had a three-round total of 11-under 205 at Kooyonga Golf Club.
Australian Hannah Green moved into second place after the round of the day, a 66.
Champions — Joe Durant birdied five of the last eight holes for a 9-under 63 to take the second-round lead at the Chubb Classic in Naples, fla.
Durant rebounded from a three-putt bogey on the par-4 10th with birdies on the next two holes and also birdied Nos. 15-17. He had a 14-under 130 for a one-stroke lead over Steve Stricker.
European — Joost Luiten shot his second straight 6-under 66 to move into a three-way tie for the lead at the Oman Open in Muscat. Also at 12-under 204 was Matthew Southgate (69) and Julien Guerrier (66) after the third round at the Greg Norman-designed Al Mouj Golf Club.