Golf: Chilean Niemann stretches Genesis Invitational lead to three shots, aims for wire-to-wire win

Joaquin Niemann acknowledged that it is not something that happens on a regular basis. PHOTO: REUTERS

(REUTERS) - Joaquin Niemann shot a three-under 68 in a wild ride on Saturday (Feb 19) to widen his lead to three strokes after three rounds of the Genesis Invitational at Pacific Palisades, California.

The 23-year-old Chilean started the day hot, befitting his play through the first two rounds, when he shot a pair of 63s. He is at 19-under 194 for the tournament, which is being contested at Riviera Country Club.

In the third round, he went five under for the first 10 holes, capped by his eagle on the par-four 10th. That span also included four birdies and a bogey. But his final eight holes consisted of two bogeys and six pars.

Niemann, whose only PGA Tour win came in 2019, has led the tournament through all three rounds, acknowledged that it is not something that happens on a regular basis.

"Yeah, obviously it feels different," he said. "You don't lead tournaments too often out here, there's too many good players, but yeah, I think when it's your week you've got to try to do your best and try to stay there, stay in the present and do your best."

Alone in second place at 197 is PGA Tour rookie Cameron Young, who shot a two-under 69 on the heels of his nine-under 62 on Friday.

The American, who is looking for his first Tour win, missed a chance to climb closer to the lead when he double-bogeyed the par-three 16th. His day comprised four birdies, including one at No. 17, and all the rest were pars.

The 24-year-old talked about the highs and lows after the round.

"Today I didn't get the most out of it, but I didn't get the least either.

Obviously I didn't play as well as I did yesterday, I didn't play as well as I did on Thursday, but to get out of there a couple under par is never a bad day. So happy I was able to kind of get it down there at the end."

Viktor Hovland of Norway fired a six-under 65 to move into third place at 200. After birdies on seven of his first 11 holes, he bogeyed Nos. 14 and 15, before adding a birdie at the 17th.

Hovland, a three-time winner on the Tour, most recently in November, called it a matter of playing his best golf and not worrying about the competition.

"Yeah, it's a little frustrating because seven under through 11 holes and I had hardly gained any momentum, or I was peeking a little closer but I was still pretty far behind," he said.

"If they just keep playing the way they do, there's not much I can do. Should have played better the first day. All I can do is just keep playing like I am and we'll see what happens tomorrow."

Former world No. 1 Justin Thomas, who began the day in third place, shot a one-under 70 to end at 12 under. His day included back-to-back bogeys at Nos. 12 and 13, and ended with consecutive birdies on the final two holes.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.