PACIFIC PALISADES, United States: Wild wind and rain lashing Riviera Country Club halted Jhonattan Vegas’s charge at the US PGA Genesis Open, where the second round was stopped Friday (Saturday in Manila) as a storm moved in.
Play was suspended for the day not long after gusting wind brought down part of a eucalyptus tree on the rain-soaked course.
Vegas coped admirably with the deteriorating conditions, piling up four birdies before a bogey at the par-five 11th that left him at seven-under through 14 holes and tied atop the leaderboard with Sam Saunders — the first-round leader who never teed off on Friday.
Jason Kokrak, who shared second place behind Bubba Watson at Riviera last year, was six-under for the tournament through 10 holes.
Australia’s Cameron Percy was the leader in the clubhouse on five-under par 137 after an even par 71.
“On the eighth hole we heard a big crack and this massive tree fell down right near us,” Percy said.
“I’m exhausted,” he added. “That was hard work out there.”
Given the dire forecast for Friday, organizers were fortunate to get five hours of golf in before the worst of the weather arrived.
PGA Tour executive Mark Russell said officials still hoped to complete 72 holes on Sunday, even though only two dozen players finished the second round on Friday.
“We could have played a little bit more, but why?” Russell said. “It’s going to get nothing but worse … so my thought and the staff’s thought was let’s get the spectators and the players out of here and somewhere safe and we’ll see what we do tomorrow.”
Two-time major winner Jordan Spieth was five-under for the tournament through 16 holes when play was halted. John Huh and Ben Crane were also at five-under.
“We knew it would be interesting today,” Spieth said. “(It was) just about trying to stay patient. Things aren’t going to always go your way on a day like today. Actually, rarely they’re going to go your way.”
US Open champion Dustin Johnson, who could topple Australian Jason Day from atop the world rankings with a win this week, was five-under after the first round and like Saunders never made it to the first tee.
Day was one-under for the second round and two-under for the tournament through 15 holes.
Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, the world number five who also had a chance of overtaking Day atop the rankings with a win this week, imploded in the adverse conditions.
With six bogeys in his first 13 holes, he was three-over for the tournament.
Matsuyama, who completed his first round on Friday morning with three straight birdies, will likely need a similar surge on Saturday morning to make the cut.