Genesis Invitational: Adam Scott claims victory after Rory McIlroy's challenge peters out

Adam Scott: Australian golfer holds the Genesis Invitational trophy

A review of the action at the 2020 Genesis Invitational at Riviera, where Adam Scott secured victory.

Leaderboard

-11 Scott

-9 Kang, Brown

-8 Matsuyama, DeChambeau, Homa, Dahmen, McIlroy

-7 Reavie, Johnson, Gooch


Final day report

Adam Scott started his 2020 campaign in the same way as he finished 2019's, with victory in the Genesis Invitational as Rory McIlroy's title challenge petered out at Riviera.

Scott, who won the Australian PGA Championship three days before Christmas, overcame dropping three shots in two holes on the front nine to card a closing 70 and finish 11 under par, two shots ahead of Sung Kang, Scott Brown and Matt Kuchar.

McIlroy began the day tied for the lead with Scott and Kuchar but ran up a triple-bogey seven on the fifth on his way to a disappointing 73 to finish joint fifth in his first week as world number one since September 2015.

Scott made the ideal start to the final round with birdies on the first and third, but bogeyed the fourth and then took six on the next after missing the green with his approach and needing two attempts to find the putting surface.

McIlroy did likewise but compounded the error by three-putting from 20 feet and - although he birdied the par-five 11th to remain in contention - a bogey on the 13th to Scott's birdie effectively ended his chances.

Scott gave the chasing pack hope when his approach to the 15th plugged in a greenside bunker and led to a bogey, but a superb pitch to the par-five 17th set up a decisive birdie from 10 feet.

"This is incredibly satisfying, it's a place I've loved for many years and played well at a lot of times and to get an official victory here among one of the best fields we'll have this year feels very, very good," Scott, who won the title in 2005 when the tournament was reduced to 36 holes, told Sky Sports.

"It was a tough day but this is a tough course and when the pressure's on and it's a little windy, (being) out of position isn't good and I got myself out of position a couple of times, but there was enough good stuff in there to make up for it."

Tournament host Tiger Woods carded a closing 77 to finish last of the players who made the cut for just the second time in his career.

"The good news is I hit every ball forward. A couple sideways," Woods joked to reporters afterwards.


Day three report

Rory McIlroy is in position to celebrate his return to world number one with victory in the Genesis Open, where an exciting Sunday lies ahead.

McIlroy supplanted Brooks Koepka at the top of the rankings on Monday and is now part of a three-way tie for the lead at Riviera Country Club, where a third-round 68 earned him a place in Sunday's final group alongside Matt Kuchar and Adam Scott.

It could have been better still - the 30-year-old held the lead on his own during the back nine only to stall late in the day - but McIlroy remains the man to beat having been favourite to win the tournament both before it started, and at the end of each round.

McIlroy came home in level par to post 10-under and with Kuchar one worse, falling from 11-under to the same score, a surging Scott was able to push his way alongside them after a superb 67 was capped with a birdie at the last.

Harold Varner and Russell Henley share fourth place, one behind, while Dustin Johnson played the final three holes in three under to get within two and ignite his bid for a second victory at the course.

It was a serene beginning for McIlroy on Saturday, a delicate up-and-down earning him an opening birdie before precision approaches to the eighth and ninth holes got him up alongside the halfway leader.

A short miss at the 11th was corrected by a fine birdie at the 13th, but McIlroy have that shot back immediately having found sand off the tee at the 14th, and pars to the clubhouse allowed several players right back into the tournament.

Scott was sublime from the seventh, a round of 67 backing up Friday's mesmeric 64, whereas Kuchar stalled with three dropped shots in four holes from the 13th.

Varner ended with a flourish and Henley played his way into things, the Georgia man no doubt hoping for a repeat of the 2014 Honda Classic where he caused an almighty upset in beating McIlroy in a four-way play-off.

Johnson meanwhile was happy with his display despite a double-bogey at the eighth. He fired in an eagle at the 17th, his third of the week, and salvaged par at the last to remain nicely poised ahead of what promises to be a thrilling final day.


Day two report

Rory McIlroy is just two strokes behind leader Matt Kuchar at the halfway stage of the Genesis Invitational as Tiger Woods slipped nine shots off the pace at Riviera.

Kuchar maintained his outright lead as he followed up his opening 64 with a two-under 69, while McIlroy was delighted with both his course and game management in the afternoon wave on day two as he returned a 67 mixing six birdies with one bogey on each nine.

McIlroy shares second with Harold Varner III and Wyndham Clark, former champion Adam Scott propelled himself 61 places up the leaderboard with a 64 and Jon Rahm, Justin Rose and Paul Casey are well placed at four under, but Woods slipped back to level par after dropping three shots in four holes in his frustrating 73.

Kuchar kept a bogey off his card on the first day but immediately got into trouble when he began his second round, pulling his second long and left of the green and needing four more to get down as he started with an ugly six, although he rebounded with 20-foot putts for birdie at the third and fifth.

He did well to hole from six feet to save bogey at the seventh, but a birdie-birdie start to the back nine settled the 41-year-old and he parred the final seven holes to remain at the top of the leaderboard on nine under par.

Varner held the clubhouse lead after the morning session after handing in a five-birdie 68, and his seven under score was later matched by McIlroy as he put himself not only in position to challenge for the title, but also to extend his lead over Brooks Koepka and Rahm at the top of the world rankings.

The newly-crowned world No 1 enjoyed the start he wanted when he two-putted for birdie at the first and converted from six feet for another at the third, but after missing another good chance at four, he pushed his approach to the fifth and was unable to avoid his first blemish of the round.

A stunning lag-putt around the bunker in the centre of the sixth green enabled him to save par with ease, and he holed from just inside 20 feet for birdie at seven before atoning for a misread on the ninth green with a confident putt from similar range for birdie on 11.

McIlroy's putter was on target from 20 feet at the 14th, but he erred again two holes later when a tentative par putt burned the edge of the hole, although he atoned at the long 17th to make it a clean sweep of birdies on each of the three par-fives at Riviera.

"For most of the day I did the things that I needed to do, I birdied the par-fives and I didn't put myself in any real trouble off the tee," he said afterwards. "I missed a few fairways coming in and it makes it very difficult to control your spin and get any spin on the ball coming into these greens.

"But I managed it well, played the angles, got a couple of really nice up-and-downs towards the end, and it was a nice two-putt on 18 to finish. I turned in two under and I said to myself if I could birdie 11 and 17, then par the rest, I'll be happy. Didn't quite work out that way, but a couple of them there on the back nine was very nice.

"I'm managing my game well. I've hit a couple loose shots here and there, but I'm thinking my way around the golf course and that's what this place is all about. I mean, you can hit a few squirrelly shots and get away with it as long as you miss it in the right places, and for the first couple days I've done that.

"I'm feeling pretty good about my game. I've hit some nice short-irons, I've held on pretty well for the most part, my chipping and short-game's been good, so those are all things I'll need over the weekend."

Clark, playing in the final group of the day, made it a three-way tie for second when he parred the last in the evening gloom for a 68, while Scott birdied four of the last six holes to vault to six under in an impressive first outing of the year for the Aussie, the champion at Riviera 15 years ago when the event was reduced to 36 holes due to bad weather.

Rahm (68) and Ryder Cup partner Rose (69) will look to make an early charge on Saturday along with several other notables on four under, a group which includes Dustin Johnson (66), Paul Casey (69) and Bryson DeChambeau (70).

But Woods will be among the 10th tee starters for the third round after littering his card with several "bad mistakes", the first of which led to a double-bogey six at the 15th - his sixth - when he made heavy contact with a wedge and his bunker escape from a plugged lie raced over the other side of the green.

The tournament host got back under the card for the day with birdies at the 17th and first holes, but another wayward wedge at the third led to the first of three bogeys in four holes, although three closing pars at least ensured he would be around for another 36 holes.

Also at even par is Koepka, who three-putted from just three feet on the final green to complete a rollercoaster 73 which included two double-bogeys, four bogeys but also six birdies.


Day one report

Rory McIlroy began his eighth spell as world number one with some flashes of brilliance in an opening three-under 68 in the Genesis Invitational, but it was Matt Kuchar who stormed into a three-shot lead after a brilliant 64.

McIlroy managed just one birdie in the first round at Riviera but also recorded two eagles in the space of three holes around the turn to make up for a sluggish start.

Day one ended with the Northern Irishman sharing seventh place, four shots off the pace after American Kuchar's brilliant seven-under round of 64.

Starting from the 10th, McIlroy had to hole from seven feet for par on the driveable par four after needing two attempts to escape from a greenside bunker. He also had to save par from sand on the 14th and 16th.

A perfect drive on the par-five 17th was followed by a fairway wood to the heart of the green from 289 yards. McIlroy nonchalantly holed the eagle putt from 35 feet to move into red figures.

McIlroy promptly dropped a shot on the 18th after missing the green with his approach but swiftly made amends on the short par-five first with a second eagle of the day from close range before carding his only birdie on the fifth.

"(It was) good after the start," McIlroy told Sky Sports. "I was one over through seven, missed a couple of short ones early on and then went through a stretch of missing a lot of greens.

"I got it up and down on 13, 14, 15, so that was nice to not drop any shots there and then the eagle on 17 kick-started things for me a little bit. I played my second nine a lot better than I played my first nine so I feel good."

McIlroy, who finished in a tie for third at the Farmers Insurance Open on his only previous appearance in 2020, added: "I've been working on a couple of things the last couple of weeks since Torrey Pines. There was some stuff I saw there that I was trying to get away from.

"I weakened my left-hand grip a little bit again, just to neutralise the ball flight a little bit. I feel like I can release the club head and the ball's not going to go left."

Kuchar, the world No.20, set the clubhouse target on seven under par thanks to his bogey-free round early in the day.

Sharing second after rounds of 67 were Americans Russell Henley, Wyndham Clark, Adam Schenk and Harold Varner III, along with South Korean Lee Kyoung-Hoon.

Nine players were on three under with McIlroy, including Australia's Jason Day, while England's Paul Casey was in a large group on two under which included America's Brooks Koepka and tournament host Tiger Woods.

Woods began his round in superb style with an eagle at his first hole, before adding two more birdies on the front none but dropping two shots coming home.

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