There was a lot of exceptional golf played at Riviera Country Club on Saturday. But once the third round of the rain-delayed Genesis Open finally began in late afternoon, Tiger Woods for a while took things to a level only he is familiar with.
Woods had made the cut with a stroke to spare as the second round was completed in the morning and was 10 shots behind co-leaders Justin Thomas and Adam Scott at one under par.
He started his third round on the 10th tee and went birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie in his first four holes with a collection of nearly perfect shots that most golfers only hope to make a few times a round. It got him to six under par and lifted hopes of the thousands of fans straining to get a glimpse of him.
Still, by the time play was called for darkness with the entire field on the course, Thomas had moved to 13 under par, thanks to an eagle on the par-five first hole; Scott had birdied No. 1 to get to 12 under, and Patrick Rodgers and J.B.Holmes were another shot back at 11 under.
Play was called at 5:45. Thomas and Scott got in two holes in the third round, Woods finished seven.
The third round will resume at 6:45 a.m., and players will remain in the same groups and begin the final round shortly after completion of the third.
“Its a great day to get your rhythm early and make a move,” Scott said of the early start and long day of golf Sunday.
“There’s a lot of guys up there at the moment … and hopefully by the middle of the final round you’ve taken a whole bunch of guys out of the equation.”
Scott and Thomas are in the same group, along with Holmes, and will remain in the final group for the fourth round.
Said Thomas: “Tomorrow’s going to be a marathon. It’s going to be a long, long day.” They have 34 holes ahead of them.
Thomas completed the final six holes of his second round in the early-morning chill Saturday and was very happy to have gotten through to shoot 65.
“I didn’t make any bogeys and I managed it pretty well for not being able to feel my toes and fingers there for a little bit,” he said.
“That was probably the coldest I’ve been on a golf course in a while…. I think it was like 43, 45 degrees.”
Thomas and Scott each shot 65 in the second round; Rodgers shot 67, Holmes 69. Michael Thompson’s second-round 64 helped him get to 10 under.
The All-Star list still ahead of Woods includes Rory McIlroy, Tony Finau and Paul Casey at eight under, and Jon Rahm, defending champion Bubba Watson and Jordan Spieth, along with Kelly Kraft, at seven under.
McIlroy made one of the biggest leaps up the leaderboard early Saturday. He had six holes to complete his suspended second round and birdied four of them to finish with a bogey-free 63, tied with Holmes for low round of the tournament so far.
The start-and-stop schedule created by Thursday’s rain delay hasn’t bothered him a bit.
“It’s actually been nice, I don’t mind it,” McIroy said.
“I sort of like that I can get away, go to the hotel, not spend all day at the golf course. Don’t mind getting away from the circus.”
The schedule certainly didn’t hurt him in the second round, which followed an opening-round 72.
“I hit more fairways, hit more greens,” he said of Round 2. “I hit it closer to the hole and obviously made more putts, so that all adds up to a much better round of golf.”
Woods, who is tied for 14th, knows he’ll need to make a very significant leap to challenge for the top spot and win this tournament for the first time. He wouldn’t have minded a little more daylight Saturday.