Record-breaking Niemann holds Riviera lead

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Joaquin Niemann (11/10) will take a two-shot lead into the weekend at the Genesis Invitational after breaking the 36-hole tournament record at Riviera Country Club.

The Chilean carded a second successive round of 63 on Friday to move onto 16-under-par for the tournament after mixing an eagle and seven birdies with a solitary bogey in California.

Some of the highlights of Niemann’s round included his eagle at the first, as well as holing a 42-foot birdie putt at the 12th.

The 23-year-old sits two clear of nearest rival Cameron Young (13/2) at the top of the leaderboard, as he goes in search of a second victory on the PGA Tour following his maiden success at the Greenbrier Classic in 2019.

“It feels like forever actually [since his last win],” Niemann said. “Obviously you play this game to try to win every week and yeah, but you know how hard it is to win here and how competitive they are, how many good players there are here. You have to be patient and just wait for my week.”

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World number eight Justin Thomas (7/2) carded a round of 64 on Friday to move into third position on 11-under, a score he felt would normally see him holding the outright lead rather than sitting five shots off the pace.

“Shooting 11 under, I would have thought that I would probably be leading, not five back,” Thomas said. “There’s still a lot of golf left. I think the reason you see the scores, such disparity in them is because of how firm it is.”

Major winners Jordan Spieth (12/1) and Adam Scott (16/1) are in a tie for fourth on 10-under, one shot clear of Open champion Collin Morikawa (14/1), while Scotland’s Russell Knox (100/1) leads the British interest on seven-under alongside Viktor Hovland (28/1) and Cameron Smith (25/1).

World No 1 Jon Rahm, FedExCup winner Patrick Cantlay and Rory McIlroy all made the cut, but they are unlikely to be challenging at the top of the leaderboard over the weekend, while former Riviera winners Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson and Patrick Reed were among the big names to miss out.

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Author: Paula Allen