Justin Thomas leads Genesis Open as McIlroy and Woods light up third day
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 17/02/19 6:15pm
Justin Thomas ended another long day at the Genesis Open with a one-shot lead as Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods made significant moves at Riviera.
Thomas shared the halfway lead with Adam Scott on 11 under and managed to complete only two holes of their third rounds before play was suspended, while McIlroy surged into contention with a superb 63 before Woods made a spectacular start to round three.
With the tournament still playing catch-up following the seven-hour weather delay on Thursday, the second round was not completed until shortly after 2:30pm local time (10:30pm GMT) on Saturday, and it was Thomas and Scott who emerged as joint leaders after both followed their opening 66s with impressive 65s.
When they finally began their third rounds in fading light, Scott's birdie at the first was surpassed by Thomas, who holed from 12 feet for eagle after almost pitching his second in the cup, and both will resume halfway down the third when play restarts early on Sunday morning.
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Patrick Rodgers and JB Holmes are two shots off the lead and also facing a marathon 34-hole final day, while McIlroy and last week's runner-up Paul Casey are firmly in contention on eight under par.
McIlroy still had six holes of his second round to complete and had hoped to play them in no worse than two under, but he exceeded his target by double with a stunning run of putts, in stark contrast to the series of chances he missed in his frustrating, opening 72.
The world No 9 enjoyed a run of four birdies in five holes from the fourth, holing two 30-footers and another from outside 20 feet before closing with a par at the ninth to cap a 63 - the best second round of his PGA Tour career which left him just four off the lead at halfway.
But playing-partner Woods had to dig deep just to make the cut after resuming with his third straight bogey at the fourth, and an early exit remained a possibility until he effectively ensured he would be around for another 36 holes when he holed a vital birdie putt from the rear fringe at the ninth.
Tournament officials were forced to implement a two-tee start for the final two rounds with the 76 remaining players out in three-balls, and Woods soon lit up the early stages of the third round with three birdies and an eagle over his first four holes.
His remarkable run began with a good up-and-down from the rough at the driveable 10th before he smote a sublime 250-yard five-wood to 10 feet at the long 11th and converted the chance for eagle.
Woods made further strides up the leaderboard when he drained a 20-foot putt for birdie at 12 and another from 15 feet at the 13th, and he will return to take on a tricky pitch and putt to save par on the 17th having decided it was too dark to complete the hole moments after the klaxons echoed around the course.
The tournament host returned to the clubhouse on six under, seven off the lead and one behind star-trio Jon Rahm, Jordan Spieth and defending champion Bubba Watson, who each have 14 holes of their third rounds to complete.
Play will restart at 2:45pm GMT (6:45am local time), with live coverage from 6pm through to the conclusion on Sky Sports Golf.