Niemann Holds Three Shot Lead, Stays On Prime As Main Champs Cannot Preserve Up In LA

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — The tee shot was near excellent, staying on the tenth inexperienced at Riviera and simply left of the flag for the longest time till it trickled off the again. Joaquin Niemann was in no temper to complain.

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He holed the putt from simply over 20 ft for eagle, and at that second Saturday within the Genesis Invitational, the 23-year-old from Chile was in a spot nobody had ever been on the fabled course off Sundown Boulevard.

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Niemann was 21-under par. Lanny Wadkins by no means received there in 1985 when he set the 72-hole scoring report, the oldest such report on the PGA Tour. Dustin Johnson didn’t get there the place he gained huge in 2017.

Now it’s a matter of Niemann getting the prize that issues. He’ll attempt to turn into the primary wire-to-wire winner of the event since Charlie Sifford in 1969.

Niemann didn’t hit one other fairway the remainder of the third spherical, dropped two photographs and nonetheless managed a 3-under 68 that gave him a three-shot lead over Cameron Younger.

Niemann was at 19-under 194, breaking by two photographs the report final matched by Justin Thomas in 2019.

“I’m having the very best time of my life proper now,” Niemann mentioned. “I simply attempt to hold it calm, however yeah, I’m having fun with it loads and I simply can’t wait to have an excellent day tomorrow.”

That wouldn’t bode effectively for these chasing him.

Younger confirmed loads of moxie for a 24-year-old PGA Tour rookie in solely his twelfth begin on the PGA Tour. Even with Niemann enjoying so effectively, Younger stayed with him for the longest time. Trailing by two, he caught a plugged lie within the bunker in entrance of the par-3 sixteenth, took two photographs to get out and made double bogey. A birdie on the par-5 seventeenth gave him a 69.

He was leaderboards and wasn’t all that snug with what he noticed, even with Younger’s identify within the second spot.

“It’s laborious to not discover if you take a look at him operating away from everyone,” Younger mentioned. “He was 5 underneath via 10 when he made 2. At 21 underneath with an eight- or whatever-shot lead over third? Truthfully, I used to be enjoying OK … and he was operating away from me.”

Becoming a member of them within the ultimate group might be 24-year-old Viktor Hovland, who had eight birdies in his spherical of 65. That solely received the Norwegian inside six photographs of Niemann.

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“It’s just a little irritating as a result of 7 underneath via 11 holes and I had hardly gained any momentum, or I used to be peeking just a little nearer however I used to be nonetheless fairly far behind,” Hovland mentioned. “If they simply hold enjoying the best way they do, there’s not a lot I can do. Ought to have performed higher the primary day. All I can do is simply hold enjoying like I’m and we’ll see what occurs tomorrow.”

Niemann was poised to win for the second time on the PGA Tour and wanted just one extra spherical within the 60s to interrupt the event scoring report of 20-under 264 that Wadkins set in 1985.

Thomas had mentioned there was a protracted strategy to go when he began 5 photographs behind with 36 holes forward of them. He began with a birdie after which made 10 straight pars earlier than a pair of bogeys that despatched him and different previous main champions going within the incorrect course.

Thomas birdied his final two holes for a 70. He was seven behind. Adam Scott opened with two birdies till he misplaced momentum and shot 73 to fall 10 photographs behind. Ditto for Jordan Spieth, who had just one birdie in his spherical of 73 to fade from competition.

The ultimate group Sunday will characteristic three gamers from three continents who have been born after event host Tiger Woods gained his first Masters in 1997.

Niemann had an opportunity to construct a giant league till his driver betrayed him down the stretch. He twice couldn’t get inside 60 yards of the inexperienced after unhealthy drives to the correct and took bogey. He completed with a wonderful fade across the edges of the eucalyptus bushes to the again of the inexperienced and a chip with excellent tempo to save lots of par on the 18th.

For a event stacked with 10 of the highest 10 gamers on the earth, the one main the cost is Niemann, who’s simply outdoors the highest 30 and whose solely win was at The Greenbrier within the fall of 2019.

That is solely the third time he has had a minimum of a share of the 54-hole lead. He transformed one in all them into his Greenbrier win, and the opposite time he misplaced in a playoff final summer season on the Rocket Mortgage Traditional.

Younger was a runner-up in Mississippi final fall, and he performed with exceptional poise amid high-profile firm whereas making an attempt to maintain in vary of Niemann.

“I’m nonetheless proper there, I’ve solely received one man forward of me,” Younger mentioned. “He’s an amazing participant and I do know he’s enjoying very well, however you simply by no means know what can occur.”

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