LOS ANGELES — Being in the lead at his hometown PGA Tour event used to give Max Homa chills. Now he's playing so well it almost feels normal.
Homa, a winner last month in the Farmers Insurance Open down the coast at Torrey Pines in San Diego, ran off three birdies around the turn at Riviera Country Club and tossed in a few big par saves Friday for a 3-under-par 68, giving him a one-shot lead over Lee Hodges, Keith Mitchell and Jon Rahm at the Genesis Invitational.
Tiger Woods will be part of the weekend, even with a sloppy finish and more attention over a juvenile prank than a putter that went cold. Woods finished with three bogeys over his last four holes for a 74.
He was at 1-over 143, leaving him 11 shots behind Homa, but certain to make the cut when the second round is completed Saturday morning. For the second straight day, darkness kept the round from finishing.
Mitchell followed his opening 64 with a 69. The 31-year-old Chattanooga native is seeking a second PGA Tour victory to go with his triumph at the Honda Classic in March 2019.
He is one of four Baylor School graduates on the PGA Tour, and they're all set to stick around for the weekend at Riviera. Mitchell might even find himself battling a fellow former Red Raiders standout for the win.
Stephan Jaeger was tied for 12th at 4 under through 14 holes of his second round, while Harris English was tied for 21st at 3 under after a 73 and Luke List (71) was tied for 33rd at 1 under.
Woods, playing elite competition for the first time since the British Open last summer, apologized if anyone was offended by him jokingly slipping a tampon into the hand of Justin Thomas on Thursday after the 15-time major champion outdrove his good friend by about 10 yards.
"It was supposed to be all fun and games, and obviously it hasn't turned out that way," Woods said.
Homa and Rahm had their own brand of fun on a crisp afternoon off Sunset Boulevard.
Homa hit a wedge shot to four feet to a pin tucked behind the bunker for a birdie on No. 9, holed a 15-foot birdie on the 10th, then chipped beautifully to a back right pin for a third straight birdie on the par-5 11th.
He also saved par from a plugged lie in the bunker and made an 18-foot par putt on the 16th. His round ended with trouble off the tee that led to a bogey, but he had no complaints at 11-under 131 with his name atop the leaderboard.
He already has won twice this season. When he won this tournament two years ago — the one he used to attend as a kid who grew up 30 miles away — he said, "I don't know if I could ever do anything cooler in golf than this."
Playing well every week is pretty cool.
"I kind of feel like I should be doing this when I'm playing well, and I am playing well," Homa said. "Yeah, it's exciting — 36-hole leads are awesome. Like I said, there's a long way to go, but regardless, I can rest on the fact I'm playing great golf and I'm just going to try and do that for two more days."
Rahm is playing even better. He has nine consecutive top-10 finishes dating to September, four of those victories, and he is close to a quick return to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Even the best need a break every now and then, and Rahm got a big one Friday evening. He went with a 5-wood from 270 yards on the par-5 17th and cooked it, sailing the green toward the back grandstands. The ball smacked off the base of the bleachers, tumbled along the edge of a bunker and settled just more than three feet away for an eagle.
That capped a stretch of five holes in 5 under that put the Spaniard right into the mix going into the weekend.
"Obviously, I got very fortunate to get that bounce not only to go on the green, but to have basically three feet straight up the hill," Rahm said. "That's arguably the best bounce I've seen in person my whole golf career, and it would be hard to beat in the future."
He's seen plenty of great bounces before on various video compilations, and he started reciting some of the bizarre ones, many on the European-based DP World Tour. He's just never the star of those shows, but maybe he'll be in the next video.
"I hope it's in it," he said. "If anything beats that, I'd be surprised."
Mitchell played in the morning, making five birdies to offset a few mistakes. He was also in contention two weeks ago at Pebble Beach.
Collin Morikawa (68) was two shots behind, with Patrick Cantlay (67) another shot back. Both grew up some 20 miles from Riviera.
Rory McIlroy had a 69 and was four back.
The stars are out in Los Angeles, part of that due to Riviera, part of that due to the strongest field of the year competing for a $20 million purse.
Woods felt his 74 was as high as it could have been because of his putting, but at least he's around for the weekend. So is Xander Schauffele, who looked certain to miss the cut until his shot from 173 yards flew straight into the cup on the 17th for an eagle. He is set to make it on the number.