PACIFIC PALISADES, US: Dustin Johnson birdied three of his last four holes in a five-under par 66 on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) to take a one-stroke lead after the second round at the weather-hit Genesis Open.
The US Open champion, who could jump from number three in the world to number one with a long sought victory at Riviera Country Club, had a 36-hole total of 10-under par 132.
He was one shot in front of US compatriots Pat Perez, who closed with back-to-back birdies for a 66, and Cameron Tringale, who had seven birdies in an impressive seven-under 64.
It was a further two strokes back to Venezuela’s Jhonattan Vegas and Americans Patrick Rodgers and J.T. Poston on 135.
Johnson, whose six top-10 finishes at Riviera include a playoff loss two years ago, could supplant Jason Day atop the world rankings if he can break through for a first win at the classic course west of Los Angeles.
“I want to put myself in position to win this golf tournament, that’s really all I care about is what it takes to get it done here,” Johnson said. “The rest of the stuff, the points and world golf rankings, yeah, I would like to get there, but I’m not worried about it.”
Whether a win would catapult him to the top depends on just where Day finishes. The Australian was eight off the pace after completing his rain-disrupted second round early Saturday.
Day was among the players forced off the course when wind and heavy rain swept through on Friday — when Johnson never made it to the first tee.
Day said the disruptions were less of a problem than his own “scratchy” game.
“I didn’t hit it good,” he said. “When you’re thinking too much technique you’re losing focus of actually the target — I’m getting in my own way, really.
“But I’ve still got two more rounds and I feel confident that I can get some good stuff going,” he added.
Although the third round began shortly after the second ended, with only a couple of hours of daylight remaining, Sunday was shaping up as a marathon.
A confident Johnson was undaunted by the prospect.
“Thirty-six holes can be a really good thing sometimes if you’re playing really well, which I feel like the golf game, I’m in control of it right now,” he said. “So playing 36 in one day is not going to be a problem.”