Long-hitting Dustin Johnson on Saturday closed in on the world No. 1 ranking when he took the second-round lead at the weather-plagued Genesis Open in Los Angeles.
Johnson overcame some errant mid-round iron shots, storming home with three birdies in the final four holes for a five-under-par 66 on the damp and unusually lush Riviera Country Club course.
The US Open champion posted a 10-under 132 halfway total in the event formerly known as the Los Angeles Open, one stroke better than fellow Americans Pat Perez (66) and Cameron Tringale (64).
Venezuelan Jhonattan Vegas trailed by three shots, along with Americans Patrick Rodgers and J.T. Poston, with former world No. 1 Luke Donald of England among a group another stroke back.
The second round was completed nearly 24 hours behind schedule, a result of Friday’s near washout as a major winter storm lashed southern California with torrential rain and strong winds.
Seventy-one players made the cut, which fell at even par, before the third round started late in the afternoon, although the leaders were not scheduled to tee off until yesterday morning.
Officials hoped to complete the scheduled 72 holes by late yesterday, which should be doable given the decent forecast.
World No. 3 Johnson will jump to the top spot if he wins, as long as No. 1 Jason Day finishes lower than third.
Australian Day faces a tall order to do so, eight strokes off the halfway pace in a tie for 40th.
Johnson is feeling at home on a course where he has twice finished runner-up.
“I’m very comfortable,” he told Golf Channel. “I’ve had a lot of good finishes so it gives me a lot of confidence going into the last two rounds.”
His approach game went off the boil mid-round, but he used a deft short touch, assisted by the soft conditions, to keep his card blemish-free.
“I hit a few squirrelly shots,” Johnson said. “I drove it well all day. I just hit some poor iron shots in the middle of the round. Didn’t make any of my short [putts], but made a few long ones.”
Those long ones included a 35-footer at the 15th and a 20-footer at the last.
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