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Sports

February 20, 2017

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Johnson leads at Riviera, closes in on top world ranking

Johnson leads at Riviera, closes in on top world ranking

PACIFIC PALISADES, United States: Dustin Johnson edged closer to golf’s world number one ranking on Saturday, firing a five-under par 66 to seize a one-stroke lead after two rounds of the weather-hit Genesis Open.

The US Open champion, who could jump from number three in the world to number one with a long-sought victory at Riviera Country Club, had a 36-hole total of 10-under par 132.

He was one shot in front of US compatriots Pat Perez, who closed with back-to-back birdies for a 66, and Cameron Tringale, who had seven birdies in an impressive seven-under 64.

It was a further two strokes back to Venezuela’s Jhonattan Vegas and Americans Patrick Rodgers and JT Poston on 135.

Johnson, whose six top-10 finishes at Riviera include a playoff loss two years ago, could supplant Jason Day atop the world rankings if he can break through for a first win at the classic course west of Los Angeles.

If Johnson wins, Day must finish no worse than a two-way tie for third to hold on to the top spot.

The Australian was eight off the pace after completing his rain-disrupted second round early Saturday.

Day was among the players forced off the course when wind and heavy rain swept through on Friday — when Johnson never made it to the first tee.

The third round began shortly after the second ended, but darkness fell before the leaders teed off.

Johnson had five birdies, rolling in putts of more than 30 feet at the fourth and 15th, and draining a 20-footer at the 18th.

Eighteen players were within five strokes of Johnson’s lead. That included two-time major winner Jordan Spieth, who headlined a group on five-under 137.

Those missing the cut at even par included Japan’s world number five Hideki Matsuyama — who also had a chance to overtake Day with a victory this week. He imploded in the adverse conditions on Friday and couldn’t get back on track as he closed out a nine-over par second round on Saturday.

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