Joaquin Niemann Seeks To End Lanny's 37-Year L.A. Record
Record scoring highlights Riviera's vulnerability. Plus, Tiger visits the CBS booth to talk about his future and distance regulation.
High scores? Your distance addicts and manufacturer toadies can’t wait to declare, “See, nothing’s wrong.” Even if the carnage can thanks borderline hole locations aided by heaping sides of rough and wind?
“But it was fair! Now let me shop ‘til I drop another $600 for five more yards!”
Yet when record low scoring suggests a once difficult, many-times rejiggered course could be overmatched? Crickets from the consumers.
Those who want to see current equipment rules updated to keep Riviera relevant come to the debate with skill in mind and not to see golf professionals humiliated. So forgive us if you hear some seizing on Joaquin Niemann surpassing the 72-hole scoring mark after 46-holes. In a tournament that’s been played every year but one since 1926.
Or if we rollbackers highlight how two players shattered the 36-hole mark in the same week. All of this is happening on a course where they’ve spent considerable sums lengthening, tweaking and pushing design features well beyond the designers’ vision.
Niemann finally cooled off to just a 68 Saturday and finished his third round at 19-under-par. Worse for the delicate distance-loving set: they received more bad news during Saturday’s Genesis Invitational third round.
Tiger Woods made his most definitive statements yet on the subject.
During a lengthy in-booth visit with Jim Nantz and Nick Faldo, Woods was asked by Faldo about the modern game rendering Riviera less irrelevant and wondered about reining in “the driver face.”
“Would be advantageous for the game of golf,” Woods said before making clear he doesn’t think the amateur game should be experience regulation.
Then Woods said, “Add spin to the golf ball. That’s a way to shorten it up as well.”
While Tiger has guardedly suggested he feels this way in past comments, it was his clearest statement yet. And to (finally) do it so explicitly on a national broadcast suggests he might know something is coming.
Or he’s just seen enough and doesn’t give a hoot.
Either way, none of the conjecture should distract from the role incredible weather and the course has played. Or from Niemann’s stunning 54-hole performance and three-stroke lead over Cameron Young.
A few notes about the scoring:
Niemann’s career-low 126 total set the 36-hole tournament record.
Prior to Niemann (126) and Young (128), four players had posted 130 or better for 36 holes at this event since 1992.
Niemann’s 19-under-par 194 breaks the tournament 54-hole record by two strokes.
He has a field-leading 22 birdies through 54 holes.
The 23-year-old Niemann is no horse for this course. He is making his fourth consecutive start here, previously going T44/2019, MC/2020, T43/2021.
Saturday’s 69.280 is the lowest scoring average at Riviera for any round since 1984 when detailed records have been kept.
Saturday’s 10 back-nine eagles also mark the most here since 1984.
On Sunday Niemann will tee off at 10:25 a.m. PT seeking to break the longest standing scoring record on the PGA Tour: Lanny Wadkins’ 264, 20-under-par total set in the 1985 Los Angeles Open.