LOS ANGELES – Sam Burns saw his five-shot lead shrink to two in a matter of two holes late Saturday afternoon at Riviera, reason to be bummed out to the realization that no one had it easier at the Genesis Invitational.
Riviera is proof enough on its own. It added a strong wind that caused a four hole delay and was tough on everyone.
Burns spent 31 consecutive holes with a bogey, a streak that ended at No. 8. When the third round was stopped by darkness, he made consecutive bogeys that took him to a pair of 10-under, two shots ahead of Matt Fitzpatrick. . .
Dustin Johnson, Max Homa and Wyndham Clark were another shot from behind.
The third round would resume early Sunday.
“Even downwind holes weren’t much easier because it was difficult to stop them there on the green,” Burns said. “There are not many opportunities today.”
It was the first time a PGA Tour event was suspended by high winds from Torrey Pines in 2016, when just 23 players finished the final round before a 40 mph gust knocked down trees and blew out tent windows.
This wind was strong enough to blow Keegan Bradley’s putt off the 10th green, and it nearly blew Homa’s splendid 5-iron at par 5 first into the hole, leaving a pinned eagle.
When play resumed, it wasn’t much easier.
Only eight of 67 players made it to the green on the 242-yard fourth hole. Par 3 14 was played 189 yards downwind, leaving players with 8 iron and 9 iron. Only 10 reached that green.
“It’s very difficult regardless of the wind, downwind,” Johnson said. “It’s really hard to judge the distance. But I feel like I’m playing pretty solid. I haven’t really made any putts, but I’m satisfied with my situation.”
Burns, the 24-year-old from Louisiana seeking his first PGA Tour victory, starts Sunday at the 14th hole.
“It’s a tough field with no wind,” Burns said.
Fitzpatrick had a strangest round going 10 consecutive holes without a par six birdies, four bogeys.
“This golf course does it,” Fitzpatrick said. “You really have to stand your ground, you have to plot your way and fail in the right areas, even failing fairways in the right areas in this wind to give you a better angle. In general, you ‘just have to be very smart in this place.” .
Tiger Woods appeared just as the game stopped. Woods is the tournament host who is not playing as he recovers from a fifth back surgery.
The wind blew golf balls onto the green, and then the PGA Tour said a communications team fell off near the 14th tee and brought everyone in.
Not much changed with the wind when they resumed. Everyone was shooting shots and enduring life.
Johnson had three bogeys against three birdies and was just three shots behind. The greens were so firm, the wind whipped so hard, that even from 99 yards away on the 13th hole, he landed the ball about 50 feet away and hoped it would roll enough to give him a shot.
Spieth opened with two birdies, including a 40-foot shot on the third hole. But he hit two fairway bunkers on the seventh and eighth holes that led to the bogey, he missed a 3ft on 12 and his chip on 15 was a little firm, and with the wind and the slope he rolled about 40ft. He dropped six shots from behind.
For much of the day, Burns seemed immune to everything. He started with a constant dose of pairs, including an incredible escape at par-3 sixth, where his tee shot was close to a boundary fence. He played it in the rough and on the back of the green, and the ball rolled up to 3 feet.
But he missed an 18-foot par putt at No. 8, ending his streak of ghost-free holes. Burns missed a short birdie in the ninth, landed a superb bunker shot for a tap-in birdie in the 10th and stretched his lead to five shots.
Everything changed very fast.
He made three putts from 50 feet on 12. And then his wedge at 13 was far enough to the left that he caught a ridge and rolled down a hillside into the rough. He chipped to 6 feet and missed the par putt.
That’s when the game stopped.
Fitzpatrick made a 20-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole to get to 8 under, and suddenly he was two shots behind. Fitzpatrick was 3-under for the day through 17 holes, the lowest score of the round so far.
Only 12 other players were under par for their rounds, none better than 2 under. The average score when the game was suspended was 73.3.