Niemann sets the pace at Riviera

Golf

Joaquin Niemann (5/1) hailed one of his “best days on the golf course” as he carded a round of 63 at Riviera Country Club to move into a three-shot lead after the opening round of the Genesis Invitational.

It was certainly a day to remember for the Chilean, who mixed nine birdies with a sole bogey to move onto eight-under-par and equal the lowest opening round in the tournament’s history.

Beginning on the back nine, Niemann set the tone early in his round with consecutive birdies before he bounced back from dropping a shot at the 12th by holing from off the next green.

The 23-year-old added three more birdies around the turn before picking up further shots at the fourth, fifth and seventh to seal a memorable day for a player chasing his second victory on the PGA Tour following his maiden success at the Greenbrier Classic in 2019.

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“I think it’s got to be one of my best days on the golf course, especially in a place like this with this history,” Niemann told reporters. “You always know that you’re never going to have these days four days in a row, but it’s a good way to start.”

A quartet of American players are leading the chase of Niemann on five-under including Jordan Spieth (12/1), defending champion Max Homa (16/1) and Scottie Scheffler (9/1), who is fresh from claiming his first PGA Tour title at last week’s WM Phoenix Open.

Justin Thomas (10/1) and Collin Morikawa (11/1) are among the players four shots off the pace, while world number one Jon Rahm (12/1), who birdied two of his last three holes, is six strokes back alongside Rory McIlroy (22/1) and Xander Schauffele (25/1).

Former world number one Dustin Johnson (125/1), a winner of this event in 2017, has plenty of work to do during his second round, as he struggled to a two-over 73 that leaves him in a tie for 89th.

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