PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. — When Sam Burns took a five-shot after 36 holes, the question was whether anyone would be able to track him down over the weekend at the Genesis Invitational.
A blustery Saturday, which included a near-four-hour wind delay, provided some answers as scoring was at a premium at Riviera Country Club.
Twenty-three players did not complete their third rounds but of the 44 rounds that were completed, just eight golfers broke par.
Burns and his playing partners Jason Kokrak and Tyler McCumber were on the first tee at 10:08 a.m. local time, with Burns seconds away from launching his opening tee shot, when the horn blew, signaling a halt in competition. The skies were clear and the sun was shining bright but the winds reached about 35 miles an hour and that made for some unsafe playing conditions.
“We had a piece of communications equipment fall down very close to some players on the 14th tee, which really makes us as a committee step back and say maybe we need to go ahead and suspend now because it gets really more dangerous out there and that was ultimately the decision,” said Steve Rintoul, Senior Tournament Director around lunchtime.
When play resumed, Burns started plugging away. He had a bogey on 8 and a birdie on 10 but in the waning daylight, he hit a rough patch, posting back-to-back bogeys and dropped to 10 under through 12 holes. The horn blew at 5:47 p.m. local time and golfers were quick to get off the course after a long day.
“The golf course is playing really tough. It’s a hard golf course with no wind and then you get 20-plus (mph winds) and it makes it that much harder,” Burns said. “Even the downwind holes weren’t that much easier because it was hard to stop it there on the green. Just not a lot of opportunities out there today.”
His last victory came in the 2018 Savannah Golf Championship on the Korn Ferry Tour but a win at Riviera on Sunday would mean a ton for the former LSU Tiger: a first-place check good for $1,674,000 and a three-year PGA Tour exemption.
But he has work to do. His lead is down to two strokes over Matthew Fitzpatrick, who had four bogeys but countered that with seven birdies. He completed 17 holes on Saturday, but will have to rise bright and early to play one hole when play resumes.
Wyndham Clark, World No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Max Homa are tied for third at 7 under. Patrick Cantlay is alone in sixth at 6 under. Matt Jones, Talor Gooch and Tony Finau all finished their third rounds and those three are tied for seventh at 5 under along with Alex Noren and Jason Kokrak, who need to finish their third rounds. Finau’s round was sparked by two eagles.
Second eagle of the day for @TonyFinauGolf.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) February 21, 2021
Jordan Spieth made a bit of Saturday noise once again. Two weeks ago at TPC Scottsdale, he shot a blistering third-round 61 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open on his way to a tie for fourth. Last week at Pebble Beach, Spieth tied for third.
At Riviera, he birdied the first hole, then had to wait more than four hours to make his next birdie on the third, but he did, thanks to a 37-foot putt.
— The Genesis Invitational (@thegenesisinv) February 20, 2021
He also birdied the sixth to get to 9 under for the tournament but then slid back with bogeys on Nos. 7, 8 12, 14 and 15. He’s tied for 12th with Cameron Smith and Tyler McCumber.
Francesco Molinari, who recently became a member of Riviera, shot a 1-under 70. He called it a tricky day.
“Nice to get done and anything under par today was a really good score,” he said, adding that he’s never seen the wind blowing here like this before. That made for difficult putting conditions as well.
“The wind makes it harder but the greens are as good as I’ve seen them here in the last three years coming here,” Molinari said.
The third round will resume on Sunday at 6:50 a.m. when it will be about 52 degrees. The final round will begin after the reset based on 54-hole scores.