Stricker, Johnson tied for lead at rainy Riviera
LOS ANGELES – Dustin Johnson made a hole-in-one and Steve Stricker had seven birdies to brighten an otherwise dreary day at rainy Riviera and finish atop the leaderboard Friday at the Northern Trust Open.
Johnson’s 8-iron from 152 yards landed between the pin and the famous bunker in the middle of the green at No. 6, spinning back into the cup for an ace that put him in the lead for most of the afternoon. He had two holes remaining when play was halted by darkness.
Stricker, playing in a morning rain that never relented, chipped in for birdie on the 18th and nearly made an ace on No. 4 when his hybrid from 230 yards lipped out. He shot a 6-under 65 and had the clubhouse lead.
He was at 10-under 132.
Johnson, also 10 under after a bogey on the 15th, was to return Saturday morning to play the par-5 17th and the 473-yard closing hole at Riviera, which was playing so long in the cold and rain that some players barely reached the green with a 3-wood.
They were three shots clear of Andres Romero, who had three holes remaining.
Darkness came early because of the gray clouds, and completing the second round in such conditions was impossible. Players had to spend extra time on every shot to wipe off the grips of their clubs and the brims of their hats.
Late in the day, the maintenance crew had to roll the soaked tee boxes.
That made the performance of Stricker and Johnson even more remarkable.
“Dustin Johnson is 11 under,” Paul Goydos said in amazement as he walked off the 11th tee. “That’s like being 47 under through three rounds at the Hope.”
Johnson, who opened with a 64 for a one-shot lead, caught the brunt of the weather. Temperatures dipped into the 50s, and with the steady rain and soaked conditions, some players couldn’t carry their tee shots much more than 225 yards.
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