Portugal Colonial - Niemann sets 36-hole record to lead by two at Riviera

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

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

Joaquin Niemann had another highlight-reel day at Riviera Country Club on Friday setting a 36-hole tournament record to lead the Genesis Invitational by two shots.

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The 23-year-old Chilean, who equalled the first-round record with an eight-under par 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 par 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."

Niemann had a quick turnaround in the tournament hosted by Tiger Woods after a late tee time on Thursday.

Despite little sleep he was able to back up his impressive opening effort.

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 nine-foot birdie at the ninth.

Niemann bounced back from a bogey at the 10th with a 12-foot birdie at 11 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-5 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.

"I think I made a good job there, which I was feeling great the whole day," added Niemann, who is seeking to add a second PGA Tour title to his 2019 triumph at The Greenbrier.

- Rahm struggles -

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.

He polished off the superb effort by hitting his 107-yard second shot at the ninth to within two feet and tapping in.

Niemann and Young might not have been the names many expected to see at the top of the leaderboard in a tournament featuring all of the world's top 10 players.

World number one 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.

Major winner Justin Thomas was alone in third, five shots off the lead after a seven-under 64 that featured a 31-foot eagle putt at the 11th and five birdies.

It was a further two shots back to Australian Adam Scot (65) and American Jordan Spieth (67) with world number two Collin Morikawa in solo sixth on 134.

A.Silveira--PC