Genesis Invitational

Sam Burns keeps two-shot lead as third round wraps up early Sunday, but DJ among the chasers

February 21, 2021

Sam Burns wrapped up the final five holes of his third round on Sunday morning at Riviera, shooting a 74 but keeping his two-shot lead at the Genesis Invitational.

Sean M. Haffey

PACIFIC PALISADES. Calif. — It’s not a sight any golfer wants to see: Dustin Johnson strutting towards you in the rearview mirror.

On the other hand, if you’re beating DJ, it usually means you’re somewhere close to the lead. That’s exactly where Sam Burns is after 54 holes at the Genesis Invitational, despite continuing his third-round struggles when he returned to Riviera at dawn Sunday morning. The 24-year-old played his last five holes in one over on a bitterly cold morning (by California standards, at least) to post a three-over 74. The five-shot lead Burns held after 36 holes has shrunk to two as he sits at nine under par.

Johnson, the World No. 1 seeking his second win at Riviera and his fourth victory in his last nine worldwide starts, is part of a three-man group two shots back after a closing out an even-par 71. Matthew Fitzpatrick is there, too, after making seven birdies and shooting 69 in his third round, despite bogeying the one hole he had left to play after opting not to finish as the light faded on Saturday evening. Then there’s local boy Max Homa, who grew up in nearby Valencia, squarely in contention for a second straight year at the Genesis after parring all five of his holes Sunday morning and shooting 70.

Patrick Cantlay is one of six players two shots further back at five under.

The winds that halted play for nearly four hours on Saturday afternoon had subsided by the time the 23 players who couldn’t finish their third rounds Saturday returned to the course, but a healthy breeze remained, and the high-40s temperature ensured the already-firm greens played extra springy. The final third-round scoring average came in at 73.343, the highest of any third or fourth round at the Genesis since records were first kept in 1983.

The winds are forecasted to continue throughout the afternoon, which should make for an exacting final round on one of the country’s iconic courses.

“I was proud of the way we just kept fighting,” Burns said on Sunday. “I think that’s something we’ll have to do around this place the rest of the day.”

This will be the second time in Burns’ career that he has held the 54-hole lead in a PGA Tour event. The first came last November at the Vivint Houston Open, where he had a one-shot advantage but shot a closing two-over 72 to finish T-7, six shots behind eventual winner Carlos Ortiz. If Burns can pull it out, he would become the first wire-to-wire winner on the PGA Tour since Nick Taylor did it at the 2020 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

Players will be sent off in threesomes off the first and 10th tees for the final round, with the first tee time coming at approximately 8:30 a.m. local time and the final group putting their pegs in the ground around 10:30 a.m.