April 13, 2024

LOS ANGELES: Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele first competed at playing cards on the lengthy flight to Australia for the Presidents Cup. They grew to become companions in workforce occasions, roommates on the highway, shut buddies who take holidays along with their wives, and extra apply rounds than they will rely.

Sunday at Riviera can have some familiarity to it with one exception: They’ve by no means competed in opposition to one another with $4 million on the road.

Cantlay was strong as ever Saturday within the Genesis Invitational till a tender bogey towards the top of the spherical that successfully lower his lead in half. He was main by 4 photographs many of the again 9 till his mistake on the par-5 seventeenth and robust finishes by Schauffele and Will Zalatoris.

Cantlay settled for a 1-under 70, giving him a two-shot lead over Schauffele and Zalatoris, who every birdied the sixteenth and seventeenth holes for 65s.

For a event through which host Tiger Woods withdrew with the flu and Jordan Spieth was disqualified for signing an incorrect card amidst his personal abdomen points, the ultimate spherical of this signature occasion has some enchantment.

Zalatoris missed most of final 12 months after again surgical procedure, and now he has an opportunity to point out he’s all the best way again. “Being in rivalry, that’s how you discover out the place you’re at,” he stated.

The ultimate group is Cantlay and Schauffele, a pair of Californians who are actually neighbors in Florida. They don’t do all the pieces collectively, it simply appears that method.

“We play most apply rounds collectively and we play loads at house. It gained’t be something out of the same old,” Cantlay stated.

They’ve been within the closing group twice and it’s a draw — Cantlay bought one of the best of him on the BMW Championship in 2022 at Wilmington Nation Membership, whereas Schauffele gained earlier that summer season on the Vacationers Championship.

This will probably be their twenty first time enjoying collectively on the PGA Tour, to go together with 13 instances they’ve been companions within the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup, and 12 rounds they performed collectively as companions within the Zurich Traditional of New Orleans, successful in 2022.

Cantlay, a UCLA alum who grew up 30 miles down the coast at Virginia Nation Membership, was at 14-under 199.

The Genesis Invitational has a $20 million purse like different signature occasions, nevertheless it awards $4 million (up from $3.6 million) as a player-hosted occasion. Woods won’t be round to current the trophy, confirming on X he had influenza, the reason for him withdrawing Friday.

“After we play on Mondays and Tuesdays we’re making an attempt to beat one another,” Schauffele stated. “I believe the one time we’re actually rooting onerous for one another is after we’re enjoying workforce occasions. I’m rooting for myself tougher than anybody else and identical goes for him. However in fact I’d wish to see him do properly, however after we’re within the closing group collectively it’s fairly apparent what we’re making an attempt to do.”

Cantlay lastly missed a putt inside 10 toes, this one for par on the third gap, however was in any other case strong on an overcast afternoon at Riviera. He saved a troublesome par on the tenth when his chip rolled off the inexperienced and added birdies on the eleventh and thirteenth.

“I performed strong golf at the moment,” Cantlay stated. “I didn’t make any lengthy putts or something. Didn’t actually give myself too many probabilities, however all in all a strong day and in good place for tomorrow.”

However he misplaced a little bit of his cushion, notably on the par-5 seventeenth, the second-easiest gap at Riviera that yielded solely two bogeys among the many 51 gamers who reached the weekend.

Cantlay discovered a fairway bunker to the best off the tee, blasted out to wedge vary and his shot to a entrance pin got here off the inexperienced. He chipped weakly to fifteen toes and missed the par putt.

Schauffele opened with a 15-foot eagle putt on the par-5 first and was comparatively quiet till caring for the par 5s on the again and including birdies on the quick par-4 tenth and a tee shot to 7 toes on the par-3 sixteenth.

Zalatoris, who missed most of final 12 months recovering from again surgical procedure, already has one spotlight this week along with his hole-in-one Friday on the 14th that resulted in a automobile for him and his caddie. He zoomed into rivalry with 5 birdies over his 10 holes for a 65.

Luke Checklist (68) was three photographs behind, whereas Harris English (65) and Jason Day (69) had been one other shot again going into the ultimate spherical.

Nobody else was nearer than 5.

Cantlay is making an attempt to affix Max Homa (2021) and John Merrick (2013) as gamers from the higher Los Angeles space making an attempt to win what quantities to a hometown occasion. Cantlay gained the Zozo Championship at Sherwood in Thousand Oaks, about 35 miles to the north, when the event was moved to California through the pandemic.

However Riviera is particular.

“Being from southern California, it’s one of many tournaments on the record that I’d wish to win essentially the most,” Cantlay stated.