Monday, December 18, 2017
Golf

Kokrak leads at Riviera; big names lurk

LOS ANGELES — Jason Kokrak sensed something special was about to happen, and he could point to his name atop the leaderboard Friday in the Northern Trust Open.

For so many others, Friday was something out of the ordinary.

Jordan Spieth, the world's No. 1 player, made eight birdies and missed the cut by five shots. Charl Schwartzel had a double bogey and a triple — the latter when a shot hit him in the hand — yet shot 68 to remain in contention. Padraig Harrington realized during the round he was wearing someone else's right shoe.

Kokrak birdied all the par 5s at Riviera on his way to 7-under 64 to build a one-shot lead over Chez Reavie (67) at 10-under 132 after two rounds. Kokrak has never won on the PGA Tour, though power can go a long way on this course under these conditions and he has plenty of it.

"It's been a struggle to learn how to play this golf course," said Kokrak, who has no top-30 finishes here in four tries. "It's old school. It's very hard. But it's right there in front of you."

There was plenty of power at the top of the leaderboard.

Dustin Johnson (66) and Bubba Watson (68) were at 8-under 134. Johnson has been the runnerup at Riviera each of the past two years, and Watson won the event two years ago with a 64-64 weekend. Rory McIlroy (69) and Adam Scott (68) were four shots behind.

Johnson was hitting the driver so well that after a high cut that went 332 yards on the 12th hole, he tried the same shot on the 13th. He took it over the eucalyptus trees on the 458-yard hole, leaving only a sand wedge from 116 yards. He made par and made an impression on Adam Scott.

"Fourth hole of our day, he's swinging like it's 95 degrees and midday somewhere," Scott said. "The way he drives the golf ball is just unreal. He's an incredible talent and fun to play with, fun to watch."

As for Harrington?

He shot 70 in white, classic-style Foot-Joys. They looked the same. The fit the same. But only when he went to clean off the sole and noticed a different set of spikes did Harrington realize the right shoe was different from the left.

He was at 141, nine shots back.

McIlroy had a few careless three-putt bogeys, but he atoned for that with a majestic 3-wood up the hill from 285 yards to 20 feet for a two-putt birdie on the par-5 17th.

Spieth shot 68, not enough to make up for his opening 79, and will miss weekend play.

LPGA: Holly Clyburn shot 7-under 65 to take a share of the second-round lead with 46-year-old Catriona Matthew (69) at the Women's Australian Open in Adelaide. They were at 8-under 136, a shot ahead of Caroline Masson (71), Lin Xiyu (67), Jenny Shin (70) and Haru Nomura (68). Jack Nicklaus, who won his sixth Masters title at Augusta in 1986 at 46 — posted on Twitter after Matthew's round: "Hang in there and don't give up, finish strong! Everyone wrote me off at 46!"

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