Dustin Johnson fired a second-day 68 and will enter Saturday’s finale of the LIV Golf Invitational Portland holding a share of the lead with day-one leader Carlos Ortiz (69).
Johnson, the former world No.1, finished his second day at Pumpkin Ridge with four bogeys offset by eight birdies including four gains in a five-hole span (Nos. 4-9) en route to a two-day score of 8-under par.
“I feel like I’m playing really well right now. Obviously I put it together for the first — yeah, through 12 holes,” said Johnson.
“Hit some nice shots on 13 and 14, just three-putted both of them. Good holes, tough golf holes.
“But yeah, I’ve played really solid all day long. Obviously gave a few shots away there on 13, 14 and 16, but other than that, it was really nice.”
Ortiz, meanwhile, signed for a scorecard featuring one bogey against four birdies to join Johnson atop the marquee in Portland.
“Trying to do the same thing he [Johnson] was doing. He was playing great,” said Ortiz. “I don’t know why, but when somebody is playing good in your group it’s easy for everybody else to start catching up.
“Same when we were playing okay and then he started making birdies, Pat [Perez] started making birdies, I started making birdies, so we were rooting for him, keep going so we can keep all going.”
After a second straight 69, highlighted by four closing birdies, Branden Grace was two off the pace and alone in third place on 6 under.
“Played really good again today. Obviously good vibes from the last one, and nice to finish with four in a row to put myself back in it,” said Grace.
“Obviously with the team, these boys were running away with it. At one stage I think we were seven or eight shot behind, so kind of have to dig deep and hope one of your other guys are making some birdies, as well. Yeah, just excited. It’s great.
“It’s a proper golf course. Anything can happen around here. As soon as you start pushing, things can go the other way very quickly.
“It almost kind of gives you that little bit of a U.S. Open feel, just the rough being up a little bit, trying to hit your spots and just trying to make the birdies when they come your way.”
Grace’s compatriot Justin Harding (67) was one further back on 5 under, one clear of a five-player logjam tied for fifth, headlined by a third South African in Louis Oosthuizen (69), alongside American stars Brooks Koepka (70) and Patrick Reed (68).
Bryson DeChambeau posted 69 to sit T10 on 3-under par, one ahead of Pat Perez (73) and Talor Gooch (70) and two clear of Martin Kaymer (72), Matthew Wolff (71) and Kevin Na (68).
Team Aces used the two scores of Johnson (-4) and Reed (-4) to reach -15 and extend their team advantage by two.
“Well, I saw the leaderboard whenever we were coming into the clubhouse, so I know where — we were up 4, I think, there probably at 9 or 10 or something right there,” said Johnson, team captain of the 4 Aces.
“But tomorrow is still a big day. All four guys need to play well if you want to win.”
In addition to Johnson and Reed, 4 Aces also includes Perez and Gooch. The foursome now leads Team Stinger (-11) by four shots heading into Saturday’s final round. Grace (-3) and Oosthuizen (-3) were Team Stinger’s contributors on Friday. In the final round, the top three scores count for each team.
LIV Golf Invitational-Portland
Leaderboard: Top 10
1. Dustin Johnson -8 (-4)
1. Carlos Ortiz -8 (-3)
3. Branden Grace -6 (-3)
4. Justin Harding -5 (-5)
5. Patrick Reed -4 (-4)
5. Sihwan Kim -4 (-4)
5. Louis Oosthuizen -4 (-3)
5. Jinichiro Kozuma -4 (-3)
5. Brooks Koepka -4 (-2)
10. Bryson DeChambeau -3 (-4)
10. Sam Horsfield -3 (-4)
Pos-Team-Score (Top 2 Scores)
1. 4 Aces (-15)
Rd1: (Johnson -4, Perez -3)
Rd2: (Johnson -4, Reed -4)
2. Stingers (-11)
Rd1: (Grace -3, du Plessis -2)
Rd2: (Grace -3, Oosthuizen -3)
3. Crushers (-8)
Rd1: (Harding E, DeChambeau E)
Rd2: (Harding -5, DeChambeau -3)
3. Torque (-8)
Rd1: (Tanihara -3, Kozuma -1)
Rd2: (Kozuma -3, Kinoshita -1)
3. Fireballs (-4)
Rd1: (Ortiz -5, Abraham Ancer +1)
Rd2: (Ortiz -3, Abraham Ancer -1)