Golf roundup

Johnson still shining

He’s aces at rainy Northern Trust

Dustin Johnson could only get in 16 holes at the rain-delayed Northern Trust Open yesterday. Dustin Johnson could only get in 16 holes at the rain-delayed Northern Trust Open yesterday. (Reed Saxon/Associated Press)
Associated Press / February 6, 2010

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Dustin Johnson made a hole-in-one and Steve Stricker had seven birdies to brighten an otherwise dreary day at rainy Riviera and finish atop the leaderboard yesterday at the Northern Trust Open in Los Angeles.

Johnson’s 8-iron from 152 yards landed between the pin and the famous bunker in the middle of the green at No. 6, spinning back into the cup for an ace that put him in the lead for most of the afternoon. He had two holes left when play was halted by darkness.

Stricker, playing in a morning rain that never relented, chipped in for birdie on the 18th and nearly made an ace on No. 4 when his hybrid from 230 yards lipped out. He shot a 6-under 65 and had the clubhouse lead.

“I’m very happy to be done with the round, to tell you the truth,’’ said Stricker, who was at 10-under 132. “It was pretty miserable out there today.’’

Johnson, also 10 under after making his lone bogey on the 15th, was to return today to face the par-5 17th and the 473-yard closing hole at Riviera, which was playing so long in the cold and rain that some players barely reached the green with a 3-wood.

Johnson and Stricker were three shots clear of Andres Romero, who had three holes remaining. Forty-one players failed to finish the round.

Phil Mickelson, trying to become the first player to win three straight at Riviera, had a 66 and was at 4-under 138.

Darkness came early because of the gray clouds, and completing the second round in such conditions was impossible. Players had to spend extra time on every shot to wipe off the grips of their clubs and the brims of their hats. Late in the day, the maintenance crew had to roll water off the soaked tee boxes.

That made the performances of Stricker and Johnson even more remarkable.

If anyone can handle the rain, leave it to Johnson. He won at Pebble Beach last year when the tournament was cut to 54 holes because of rain, and at Turning Stone in 2008, which was slowed by rain early in the tournament.

The forecast was for more rain overnight, and throughout today.

Stricker, the runner-up at Riviera last year, left the course with no idea when he would hit his next shot. He was four shots ahead of anyone who had finished the second round, with Kevin Stadler (71) and Tim Wilkinson (67) at 6-under 136.

Stricker played in the same group with Anthony Kim, who drove onto the par-4 10th green to open his round and managed eight birdies in his round of 66 to finish at 5-under 137, along with Steve Marino (67) and Ricky Barnes (71).

European - Thongchai Jaidee shot a 6-under 66 to take the second-round lead at the Dubai Desert Classic in the United Arab Emirates.

Thongchai reached 8 under and holds a one-shot lead on Lee Westwood (65), Stephen Dodd (69), and Miguel Angel Jimenez (67).

A double bogey at the last hole left first-round leader Rory McIlroy at 70, among a group of five players two shots behind Thongchai.

Tom Watson also shot 70 to trail by five shots.

Nationwide - Jim Herman shot a 2-under 70 to take a three-stroke lead after the second round of the Moonah Classic in Fingal, Australia.