LIV Golf got its wish.
Three of its biggest stars will play in the final pairing at Las Vegas Country Club on Saturday. That’ll give fans coming to town for the Super Bowl a reason to take in some golf and boost what have been sparse crowds the first two rounds.
Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau share the lead at 11 under. They’ll be joined in the marquee group by Jon Rahm, who sits two shots off the lead.
“I think it’s what everybody wants to see,” Rahm said after his bogey-free 63 on Friday. “It’s always a little bit better for a player when you win and you know you actually had to compete against the best in the world at their best. There’s no better feeling.”
DeChambeau and Johnson got to the top with the low rounds of the tournament, each shooting 8-under 62s. Johnson did it with a steady, bogey-free round with eight birdies. DeChambeau, on the other hand, was on 59 watch after birdies on nine of his first 13 holes. He finished with five straight pars. That ended hopes of a really low score and allowed much of the field to stay within striking distance.
“It was the weirdest 62 I’ve ever had,” said DeChambeau, who called it a suboptimal round. “I had five straight holes where they were all gettable, and I was at 8-under par, and I was like, ‘I could easily go 59, 58. If I play perfect golf, it’s 57.’”
Instead, it was 62. His wedge game abandoned him down the stretch after he had been dialed in earlier in the day.
As DeChambeau stressed over the end of his round, Johnson cruised to the clubhouse. He displayed the vintage form that earned him 24 PGA Tour wins and two major championships.
“Obviously it was a good day, just really solid,” Johnson said. “I drove it really well, hit a lot of nice iron shots. I gave myself a lot of looks at birdie.”
That was also the case for Rahm. He capped his round with a chip-in for birdie from a gnarly lie on No. 4, his 17th hole of the day.
“When you have a traditional golf course like this one, it might not be the longest, but it is pretty narrow,” Rahm said. “If you can put those drives in the fairway, you’re definitely going to give yourself a few birdie chances, like I feel like I did today.”
While the attention will be on the marquee trio, several other golfers could spoil the party Saturday. Matthew Wolff and Peter Uihlein join Rahm at 9 under. They’re just two off the lead and have a history of playing well in Las Vegas. Wolff was twice a runner-up at the Shriners Children’s Open. Uihlein won a Korn Ferry Tour event just three years ago at Paiute Golf Resort.
Another shot back are Talor Gooch, LIV’s reigning player of the year, and Jason Kokrak, who has a long history at Las Vegas Country Club. Kokrak played the course often growing up because his aunt and uncle lived adjacent to the 12th fairway.
In the team competition, Johnson’s 4Aces and Bubba Watson’s RangeGoats share the lead at 26 under. DeChambeau’s Crushers are two back and Brooks Koepka’s Smash are three behind.
Greg Robertson covers golf for the Review-Journal. Reach him at email@example.com.