Golf: Niemann sets 36-hole record to lead by two at Riviera

Chile's Joaquin Niemann reacts after putting for birdie on the 12th green, on Feb 18, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (AFP, REUTERS) - Chile's Joaquin Niemann had another highlight-reel day at the Riviera Country Club on Friday (Feb 18) as he set a 36-hole tournament record to lead the Genesis Invitational by two shots.

The 23-year-old, who equalled the first-round record with an eight-under 63 on Thursday, fired another 63 for a 36-hole total of 16-under 126. He was two strokes in front of American Cameron Young, who powered up the leaderboard with a nine-under 62 to stand on 128.

Both totals were inside the previous two-round tournament record of 130, achieved by four golfers most recently Sam Burns last year.

"Everything is working pretty well," Niemann said.

"Obviously I'm making a lot of putts right now. I feel I'm starting my ball online with the putter, so when you have greens this good, when you start your line, I think you've got a good chance of making putts, so I think that's been big this week."

He had a quick turnaround in the tournament hosted by Tiger Woods after a late tee time on Thursday. Despite little sleep, he opened with a bang at the first hole, where he landed his second shot three feet from the pin for an eagle.

He rolled in a 14-foot birdie putt at the second and gave himself a tap-in at the seventh before picking up his fifth shot on the front nine with a birdie at the ninth.

Niemann bounced back from a bogey at the 10th with a 12-foot birdie at the 11th and a 42-foot birdie putt at the 12th. Young was piling on the pressure with a late charge when Niemann added a 17-foot birdie at the 14th and a tap-in birdie at the par-five 17th.

"The one thing on days that I played that good and then I got to come the day after, sometimes it's probably not as good," he said.

"But I was able to try to keep it calm, try to stay with my emotions and try to just feel the same."

Young, a 24-year-old rookie who graduated from the Korn Ferry developmental tour, had nine birdies, including four straight to end his round from the sixth through the ninth holes.

All of the world's top 10 players were in the field and only one missed the cut - world No. 6 Dustin Johnson, who was two over after a second-round, even-par 71.

World No. 1 Jon Rahm endured a tough day with five bogeys in his two-over 73 that left him at even par - making the cut on the number - 16 shots off the lead.

Justin Thomas was in third, five shots off the lead after a 64.

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