LOS ANGELES – Sam Burns wanted to show respect for the tough Riviera by playing it safe. It resulted in a 5-under-66 on Friday to tie the 36-hole record at the Genesis Invitational and build a five-shot lead for the weekend.
Among the pursuers is Dustin Johnson, No. 1 player in the world and former winner on the Riviera. Another setback was Jordan Spieth, who feels right at home near the leaderboard.
Burns maintained his bogey-free day towards the end of the round when he showed up just before the eighth green, his 17th of the morning. He threw it about 10 feet short – anything too strong could create big problems – and made the par putt.
He also handled two of the par 5s and took as much roll on the firm grass on Aug. Hole that he only had a pitching wedge into the green and a five-foot putt. « Whenever we found ourselves in a difficult spot, we just took what the golf course gave us, » said Burns . « There are definitely times I’ve tried to force it a little, but this is just not a golf course you want to do. »
Burns are challenged to achieve Genesis victory
Burns was 12 under 130, the 2004 record set by Mike Weir and Shigeki Maruyama.
Johnson led a group at 7 under 135 despite taking the three par 5s in just 1 played for the week. Part of the problem is that Johnson only hit one par 5 fairway. That was the last one he played on Friday the 17th and it was a simple up and down that got him a little closer.
« Take it into the fairway, » he said. « I feel like I’m playing really well. I just have to get a little more out of the rounds. »
Joaquin Niemann finished his round of 68 with eight pars and was five strokes behind. He and Johnson joined them Tyler McCumber and Jason Kokrak, who shot each morning 68.
McCumber is the miracle worker this week, his finger was caught trying to open a window in his hotel room on Tuesday and his best option was that one Doctor removed the nail on his left index finger, he did it this Wednesday, hit about five balls and thought he might try. « It’s pretty wild how quickly the body adapts to things, » McCumber said « I thought it would be a little better today to just concentrate on the game of golf and not really worry about your finger. »
Rory McIlroy only made a birdie on his 76th round and missed the cut. Justin Thomas followed his opening 77 with a 73 and missed the cut. So did the US Open Champion Bryson DeChambeau after a 69th.
McIlroy had the longest active streak of the PGA Tour at 25 events that dated the British Open 2019 in Royal Portrush. The series is now owned by Xander Schauffele at 22.
Burns is a 24-year-old from LSU who has what it takes to win if he gets into position. He was sixth in the Barbasol Championship when he was an amateur, and it was only a year on the Korn Ferry Tour before he was in the major leagues. It’s not about breaking through and he’s got off to a good start on the Riviera.
« I would like to believe that I have all the tools I need to win here, » said Burns. « There are a lot of good players – really, really good players. I try not to get involved and get better every week. »
Riviera is playing fast and difficult this year with such nice weather and occasional gusts of wind. Apart from Burns and his great game over 36 holes, no one was better than 7 under par.
Ten players in the 120-man field had two rounds in ideal weather in the 1960s.
« It is one of those rare weeks, where you can’t get away with shooting flagsticks, « Spieth said. » There’s not a lot of rough, but if you get into the rough the spin gets so far away that you can’t get into pens. When you miss the greens it is often harder to get them closer than if you could have hit your approach.
Spieth was three shots behind the weekend at the Phoenix Open, shooting 61 and sharing the 54 holes -Guide. He finished fourth. Last week at Pebble Beach he had a one-shot lead after 36 holes and led to the finals with two before finishing third.
Now he’s six shots behind Burns but in a reasonable position on the Ranking. It’s an upward trend.
« It’s not like you can hunt people on this golf course, » said Spieth. « So I’m happy with where I am now, but eliminate a few small bugs here and there and try to keep clean cards over the weekend and let the rest take care of itself. »
BY Rex Hoggard
BY Rex Hoggard
BY Rex Hoggard
Dustin Johnson is in second place in the middle of the Genesis Invitational, although he is not feeling well with his driver and the par-5.
For the third time in a row Jordan Spieth is there, this time at the Genesis Invitational on the Riviera.
Brooks Koepka is controversial at the Genesis Invitational, but he’s even happier after resolving his neck pain on the Riviera on Friday.
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