Recap of the day
Completion of R2: Overnight leaders Justin Thomas and Adam Scott added one birdie apiece when they finally completed circuits of 65 Saturday morning and no-one would catch them at 11-under 131. J.B. Holmes (69) fell in with their trend by making up one shot of his own from his overnight position to grab solo third on 1-under and Patrick Rodgers slotted in one behind him on 9-under after a 67. Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey all painted 66s; it helped Johnson make the cut and jumped the latter two into the top ten. Low round of the day honors go to Rory McIlroy who made up 92 spots with his 63 (8th). Tiger Woods drained a 23’10” putt from off the green which at the time he thought was to make the cut (at it transpired he could have missed it). Late in the round (but still early in the day of course) Michael Thompson completed a superb 64 to join Rodgers in a tie for fourth.
Cut: E 142
R3 As it Stands: Suspended at 5:45 PM PST Saturday (darkness) with all 76 players on the course. Play is scheduled to resume at 6:45 AM Sunday morning, with the final threesome of Thomas, Scott and Holmes playing the par-4 third.
Revised outright betting: Thomas 5/4, Scott 7/2, Rodgers 12/1, McIlroy 14/1, Finau 20/1, Holmes 22/1, Spieth 28/1
Sunday weather forecast:
Expect wind. It will blow at around 20mph and gusts will add to that. It is also expected to be cloudy with a 40% chance of rain.
Leaders after 36 holes:
Justin Thomas (65, 131) – He’s found only half the fairways he has aimed at in both laps this week, but he’s putting superbly and is ranked first in the field for SG: Putting (6.756).
Adam Scott (65, 131) – Found 10 of 14 fairways in R2 and 14 of 18 greens in regulation in R2. Says he likes putting on these greens.
J.B. Holmes (69, 132) – Remains in contention, but stats were down on R1. From 11 to 5 fairways hit, landing 11 instead of 15 greens in regulation, and needing 1.727 putts per GIR not 1.467.
Patrick Rodgers (67, 133) – Needed one shot more than in R1 yet found more fairways (10) and more greens in regulation (14) than on the first circuit.
Michael Thompson (64, 133) – Found only half the fairways in R2 and has landed just 10 of 18 greens in regulation in both laps, but his SG: Putting leapt from -0.625 to 4.062.
Fate of the Favourites at Halfway:
Dustin Johnson (66, 139) – His long game stats were once again nothing to write home about. In fact, they were exactly the same as R1: 5 of 14 fairways, 10 of 18 greens in regulation. But the putts dropped and he improved seven shots on the first lap.
Justin Thomas – see above
Rory McIlroy (63, 135) – He made Johnson’s improvement look a bit half-hearted by making a leap of nine shots. His SG: Putting says it all: -2.437 in R1, 3.642 in R2.
Road to Victory at Riviera CC:
2018 Bubba Watson – R1: 6th, R2: 6th, R3: 1st
2017 Dustin Johnson – R1: 2nd, R2: 1st, R3: 1st
2016 Bubba Watson – R1: 2nd, R2: 3rd, R3: 1st
2015 James Hahn – R1: 1st, R2: 11th, R3: 7th
2014 Bubba Watson – R1: 35th, R2: 40th, R3: 6th
Notes: Since Adam Scott won the 36-hole event in 2005 there have been 13 champions on this course and the recent trend (the last three winners were all solo leaders at 54-holes) is strong through that extended period. In fact, eight of those 13 winners were leading and only one of them was sharing that advantage.
Fate of the 54-hole Leaders at Riviera CC – where did they finish?
2018 – Bubba Watson 1st
2017 – Dustin Johnson 1st
2016 – Bubba Watson 1st
2015 – Retief Goosen 8th
2014 – William McGirt 6th
Notes: Three distinct phases in recent years at this event. From 2008 to 2011 the third-round leader always prevailed, a trend that returned in 2016 (through to last year). In-between five men had that 54-hole advantage (2012-2015) and not one converted.
Focus on – Patrick Rodgers
There’s more than a touch of boom or bust about the 26-year-old’s current form. Last November he ended the RSM Classic with weekend rounds of 61-62 to force a play-off with eventual winner Charles Howell III. But the week before that he missed the cut in the Mayakoba Golf Classic and since then he has started 2019 with another four early conclusions. He’s broken the cut trend this week, but can he kick on?
Focus on – Danny Willett
With a two-putt par from 45’9” on his 36th hole of the week the Englishman confirmed he had made the cut. “So what?” you might wonder. Well, this is the first time since 2016 that he has made two cuts in a row on the PGA Tour (after last month’s T25 at Torrey Pines). In point of fact, his achievement is somewhat greater than that (relatively) because this week’s tournament is his 15th in America since the start of 2017 and prior to this run he had missed 11 cuts and had three withdrawals.
Focus on – Ted Potter, Jr.
As we noted in this column last week (and with specific reference to Potter, Jr.), golf is a funny game. On that occasion he crashed to an 82 in the first round of his defense of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. To add to the peculiarity, he had shot an 82 prior to that win early last year. What about his response to that success? A missed cut here at Riviera, one of five he failed to make on the trot. And so, to this year, when he cards 70-69 to make the cut with ease. Golf: A riddle wrapped inside an enigma.