Cantlay extends Riviera lead; Woods begins near cut line

ABS-CBN Sports on Feb 17, 2018 06:55 AM
Cantlay extends Riviera lead; Woods begins near cut line
Patrick Cantlay drives on the 12th tee in the second round of the Genesis Open golf tournament at Riviera Country Club in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood of Los Angeles Friday, Feb. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Patrick Cantlay came within an inch of a hole-in-one, the start of three straight birdies that led to a 2-under 69 and a two-shot lead in the Genesis Open.

Cantlay, the No. 1 amateur in the world when he played at UCLA, had to wait until the end of Friday to see if the lead held up. Tiger Woods was among those playing in the afternoon, when the greens typically are at their worst.

Woods was on the cut line when he began the second round.

Cantlay was coming off a three-putt bogey when his tee shot at the par-3 sixth — the hole with a bunker in the middle of the green — landed above the flag and to the right, and then rolled back down the slope just over the right edge of the cup.

"I actually missed a little to the right, but it's a bowl back there so as long as you get the number right, it should be pretty close," Cantlay said.

He followed with a short iron into 5 feet for birdie, a 15-foot birdie on the next hole and then a wild drive that led to a bogey on his final hole. Cantlay, who won in Las Vegas last fall, was at 7-under 135.

Tony Finau, who shared the 18-hole lead with Cantlay, recovered from a sluggish front nine with a 3-3 start to the back nine that helped him salvage a 71. He was two shots behind among the early finishers.

Bubba Watson, a two-time winner at Riviera, ran off five birdies in a six-hole stretch around his turn before he was undone by a double bogey on No. 5. His approach went into shin-high grass short of the green and he three-putted. Even so, he had a 70 and was in the mix heading toward the weekend. That would be considered progress.

Watson hasn't won since his most recent Riviera victory in 2016. He was at No. 4 in the world after that title. He arrived this week at No. 117. The two-time Masters champion says he is getting back some weight he lost when he was ill. More putts are going in. One aspect of his personality hasn't changed. When Watson is in L.A., he takes in a lot more than golf.

Watson was scheduled to play for Team Clippers in the celebrity game during NBA All-Star weekend. He suggested that he might have taped a show with Jay Leno and perhaps spent time with a friend named Ellen (DeGeneres). He was in full celebrity mode when he won at Riviera in 2016, so maybe that's the recipe.

Dustin Johnson was just happy to still be in the game. He managed a 69 on Friday, which should enable the defending champion at No. 1 player in the world to make the cut. Depending on how the afternoon went, Johnson still would only be eight shots behind.

That's a tribute to firm, dry Riviera and greens that get bumpy in the afternoon and make it hard for anyone to get to hard ahead.

Rafa Cabrera Bello tried in the morning. The Spaniard opened with six birdies in seven holes, but he still only managed a 67. He joined two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen (71) and Troy Merritt (71) in the group at 3-under 139.

Jordan Spieth had a 70 and was six shots behind.

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