Fitzpatrick negotiates the wind and 10th hole test to set up Genesis title bid

The iconic 10th hole at Riviera Country Club has made a dent in many scorecards this week, but Matthew Fitzpatrick has sussed it out as he eyes up a victory.

As if the set-up at Rivieria Country Club wasn't challenging enough at the 2021 Genesis Invitational, the high winds that swirled around the Californian course on Saturday made a tough task even tougher.

A disrupted third round will be completed on Sunday morning, meaning it will be a quick turnaround for the leaders, after play was suspended when darkness fell.

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It was a long day for leading contenders and Matthew Fitzpatrick, sitting alone in second on the live leaderboard, will have just the 18th hole to complete when play resumes.

The Englishman is currently 3-under-par for the round, on track for the low score in the third round, and one of a select group who celebrated birdie at the iconic tenth hole.

For many others, Saturday's story was not so simple.

The wind causing havoc

For the first time on the PGA Tour since the 2015 Open play was suspended as a consequence of high wind alone - the last time it happened on US soil was the 2014 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

Before the horn blew, Keegan Bradley's tussle at the tenth left viewers speechless at just how serious the weather was turning out to be.

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Leaving himself with a 59-footer for birdie, he'd played the hole with required caution needed to at least escape with a par. Well, so everyone thought.

However, the American's putt just kept on rolling, it just wouldn't stop.

Down breeze and down the slope, it rolled clean off the green, between the greenside bunkers and into the rough.

Bradley's only consolation was that he successfully got up and down for a bogey.

The difficulty went beyond the 10th hole.

The field average for completed third rounds was 73.33 and, since 1983, the previous highest scoring average in weekend rounds at Riviera was 73.22.

Fitzpatrick riding the storm

The 26-year-old's scorecard needed a second glance to double-check the lack of pars.

He opened with two pars, but wouldn't card another until the 13th hole.

A run of 10 holes from the third to the twelfth saw Fitzpatrick swap a dizzying collection of birdie and bogeys.

It was a rollercoaster of emotions for the man, who is still looking to claim his first PGA TOUR victory.

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At the tricky par-4 8th, Fitzpatrick bulleted his second shot into the heart of the green. The ball stopped within a foot of the hole for him to make an easy three.

His move against the field at the 10th came after he'd hit his tee shot into the greenside bunker.

An exquisite shot from the back of the bunker trickled just through the green but left him a makeable 10-foot birdie putt.

Moving left to right, the ball slowed in pace as it neared the hole, and dangled over the edge for a second before dropping to the bottom of the cup.

After bogeying the ninth, it was a strong response from Fitzpatrick on a hole that was causing problems.

Matthew Fitzpatrick at the Genesis Invitational.
Matthew Fitzpatrick at the Genesis Invitational.

As darkness descended Fitzpatrick was some way adrift of the long-time leader Burns, but he made a birdie at the 16th just as the American collected back-to-back bogeys.

The Englishman now sits just two back ahead of the final day.

His thoughts after a whirlwind day

On the 17 holes he played: "Yeah, it was great. Obviously in and out because of the high winds, but to go out and make some birdies early, sort of kickstart my round."

On going 10 holes without a par: "I had no idea that was the truth, I didn't know that. This golf course does it to you. You've really got to stick in, you've got to plot your way around and miss in the right areas. Even missing fairways in the right areas with this wind to sort of give you a bit better angle with the way the wind is. On the whole you've just got to really be smart around this place."

On why he was able to quickly adapt to the condition: "I grew up on a golf course that's very much like this all the time. You've just got to get it round and today was another day like that where you've got to stick in. Fortunately had a nice stretch on the front nine of birdies and kicked on from there."

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