Cantlay builds 5-shot lead at Genesis Invitational

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LOS ANGELES — Patrick Cantlay began with an eagle and never let anyone close to him the rest of the round Friday. He shot a 6-under 65 to build a five-shot lead at the Genesis Invitational going into a weekend that won’t include Tiger Woods.

Woods made another early exit, this one because of flu symptoms instead of his injured body. He withdrew after six holes and spent the next two hours getting intravenous fluids before leaving Riviera, along with a big chunk of the gallery.

Cantlay has been making just about everything and giving himself loads of chances. He knows Riviera as well as any PGA Tour course, having gone to UCLA. He probably has played this course some 70 times in college and as a pro.

“Putting great and leaving the golf ball in the right spot, which is really key around here,” Cantlay said, who leads the field in the key putting statistic. “It’s a golf course I’m really comfortable on and it’s in the best shape I’ve ever seen it.

“It’s the best putting surfaces I’ve ever seen around this place,” he said. “I like when the greens are really fast, they’re as fast as I’ve ever seen them and I’ve made a bunch.”

Even when he appeared to be in trouble, he managed just fine. Cantlay missed the fairway on the two toughest holes at Riviera, Nos. 12 and 15. He hit 4-iron to 10 feet on No. 12 – he missed the birdie putt – and 4-iron to 3 feet on the No. 15, making one of only three birdies on that hole in the second round.

He was at 13-under 129, giving him a five-shot lead over Jason Day (69), Luke List (69) and Mackenzie Hughes (65).

Woods wasn’t the only surprising departure. Jordan Spieth, who played with Cantlay, had a rough finish that left him 10 shots behind, only to sign an incorrect scorecard and get disqualified.

That left Riviera with a 51-man field for the weekend. This signature event has a 36-hole cut to the top 50 and ties and anyone within 10 shots – the latter wasn’t an issue because of Cantlay. The cut came at 1-over 143, eliminating Pebble Beach winner Wyndham Clark and Justin Thomas.

Now it’s a matter of trying to catch Cantlay, who can’t find much he doesn’t like this week.

Day and List played in the morning and set the target at 8 under, and it didn’t take long for Cantlay to catch them. He hit his approach on the par-5 opening hole to 15 feet behind the flag and holed it for eagle.

The big excitement belonged to Will Zalatoris, who had a 70 that only looked ordinary on the scorecard. Zalatoris had five bogeys and four birdies, along with a hole-in-one on the 14th hole. This ace came with a car, not only for Zalatoris but for caddie Joel Stock.

“Most of the time when I shoot 1 under it’s like two birdies and a bogey,” Zalatoris said. “Having a hole-in-one thrown in there and a bunch of crazy bogeys is not exactly how we would have drawn it up, but still, we’ll take it around this course.”

Corey Conners of Canada had a 65 and was in fifth place. Zalatoris was joined by Xander Schauffele (66) and Tom Hoge (70). Scottie Scheffler, the world’s No. 1 player, had another sublime performance from tee-to-green and more struggles on the greens for a 70.

Rory McIlroy can replace Scheffler at No. 1 in the world only with a win, and his first step was to make it to the weekend. McIlroy had a 66 to take care of the first part, though that still leaves him eight shots behind Cantlay, who isn’t doing much wrong.

“Sometimes you just go through spells where you make more a certain week than others. I have had weeks where I’ve gotten really hot with the putter, so hopefully this is one of those weeks,” Cantlay said.

He was asked if having a good attitude on poa annua greens can help.

“You’re probably asking the wrong guy,” he said. “When you’ve made as many putts as I have the last couple days, it’s easy to have a good attitude on the greens. “

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