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Burns matches 36-hole Riviera record to grab early PGA lead

Sam Burns matched the 36-hole course record at Riviera at 12-under par 130 after shooting a 66 Friday to seize the lead of the US PGA Genesis Invitational - Harry How / ©AFP
Sam Burns matched the 36-hole course record at Riviera at 12-under par 130 after shooting a 66 Friday to seize the lead of the US PGA Genesis Invitational - Harry How / ©AFP

(AFP)

Sam Burns matched the 36-hole course record at Riviera on Friday, firing a five-under-par 66 to seize a five-stroke clubhouse lead at the US PGA Genesis Invitational.

The 24-year-old American threatened to run away from a star-studded field with a bogey-free round to stand on 12-under 130 at the halfway mark.

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“I was hitting it good and I had some good looks and I was able to convert them,” Burns said. “Just had patience out there. I didn’t try to force anything. Whenever we were in a tricky spot, just took what the golf course gave us.”

Americans Tyler McCumber, playing despite slamming a window on his left index finger Tuesday, and Jason Kokrak shared second on 135 after 68s.

Riviera’s 36-hole record 130 was set first by American Davis Love III in 1992 and matched earlier by Canada’s Mike Weir and Japan’s Shigeki Maruyama in 2004.

Burns, chasing his first PGA title, was unfazed at claiming a part of history at the Tiger Woods-hosted event whose prior winners at Riviera include Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, Tom Watson, Nick Faldo, Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson.

“I don’t know, really,” he said when asked what the record meant. “We just tried to have a good game plan and stick with it out there all day.

“This golf course doesn’t necessarily give you a lot of opportunities, so just put it in the right spots.”

Burns began on the back nine with a birdie at the 10th, dropping his approach inside five feet from the cup. He birdied the 12th from just oustide five feet and rolled in a 10-foot birdie putt at the par-5 17th.

At the par-5 first, he two-putted from 32 feet for birdie and sank a six-foot birdie putt at the par-3 sixth. Burns made his longest par save at his penultimate hole from just inside 10 feet.

“The save right there on eight, my 17th hole, was big momentum for us,” Burns said as the weekend loomed with star rivals in pursuit.

“I’d like to think that I have all the tools to win out here. Obviously there’s a lot of good players, really, really good players. I try not to get caught up in that and just try to get better each week.”

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