Sam Burns tied the 36-hole scoring record of 12-under-par 130 at Riviera Country Club in building a five-shot lead halfway through the Genesis Invitational in California.
Burns followed his opening 7-under 64 with a 66 on Friday as the 24-year-old seeks his first career PGA Tour victory at one of the Tour’s most iconic venues.
He will begin the third round five strokes in front of world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, Jason Kokrak, Tyler McCumber and Chile’s Joaquin Niemann. Another shot off the pace are Wyndham Clark, Max Homa and Jordan Spieth.
It is a lofty position for the 149th-ranked Burns. The Genesis Invitational features eight of the top 10 players in the world rankings, and as an event with elevated status, the winner receives a three-year Tour exemption along with 550 FedEx Cup points.
Riviera has played host to this event 57 times and was the site of two major championships. Burns’ 130 shots through 36 holes matches a feat accomplished only twice before.
“I’d like to think that I have all the tools to win out here,” said Burns, who was in weekend contention earlier this season at the Safeway Open and the Farmers Insurance Open before fading. “Obviously there’s a lot of good players, really, really good players.
“I try not to get caught up in that and just trying to get better each week and just trying to build as the season goes on.”
While several of the marquee players in the field haven’t fared well this week, the hottest player on the planet kept Burns within his sights with a late surge.
Johnson moved up 10 spots with his 4-under 67, which was only one shot off the low round of the day set by Burns and three others.
He was one over through five holes of his second round before finding his groove, rolling in five birdies over his final 13 holes.
The 2017 event winner has nine top-10 finishes at Riviera, one of his favourite stops on Tour.
“I like my position,” he said. “I’m five back, but on this golf course there’s only one guy in front of me.
“I like where I’m at and I do like this golf course.”
The Australian contingent, however, struggled on Friday with only Cameron Smith and Cameron Davis breaking par.
Smith fired a three-under 68 to be seven off the pace in joint-ninth spot, while Davis’ 69 moved him to two under for the tournament.
Matt Jones, after his promising 67 the day before, shot 72 to be three under for the tournament.
Defending champion Adam Scott and Marc Leishman both posted two over 73s, to just make the cut at even par.