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Kuchar leads by two while Woods falls behind

LOS ANGELES — Matt Kuchar made a mess of the easiest hole at Riviera. He couldn’t find the fairway and felt he was on the defensive all afternoon Friday in the Genesis Invitational.

He was good enough with the short irons that Kuchar still managed a 2-under 69 and built a two-shot lead over Rory McIlroy and two others going into the weekend at Riviera.

“It definitely wasn’t my best stuff today,” Kuchar said. “Two under was an awfully good score for the way I drove it.”

Tiger Woods happily would have taken a score like that. Instead, he made his bid for a first victory at Riviera and a record 83rd title on the PGA Tour a lot tougher. Two swings with a wedge wound up costing Woods three shots, and his 73 left him nine shots behind.

“I made some pretty bad mistakes out there,” Woods said.

He can’t afford any more, not with 44 players ahead of him, including past champions like Adam Scott and Dustin Johnson, and players who would desperately like to add their name to the list of winners at this historic club.

Woods backing out

LOS ANGELES — Tiger Woods is among four players from the top 10 who are skipping the Mexico Championship next week, a World Golf Championships event with no cut and a $10.5 million purse.

Woods, who tied for 10th last year at Chapultepec Golf Club but was never in serious contention, did not offer a reason and was vague when asked about his schedule this week. He shot 73 in the morning at the Genesis Invitational, where he is the tournament host.

Elsewhere:

n Seven-time major champion Inbee Park moved into contention for her 20th LPGA Tour victory on Friday by taking a share of the second-round lead at the Women’s Australian Open.

Park shot 4-under 69 to put her at 10-under 136 at Royal Adelaide, level with first-round leader Jodi Ewart Shadoff (70).

“It was a little bit more calm this morning, so it was nice to play out there,” said Park, looking for her first win since the 2018 Bank of Hope Founders Cup. “My putting was consistent, like the last couple of days, so it was good. I just love the golf course and the atmosphere here. So, hopefully I can pull it off on the weekend.”

After an afternoon of misty rain and wind gusts up to 20 mph, Ewart Shadoff joined Park at the top of the leaderboard. Two early bogeys dropped the Englishwoman off the pace, but she rallied with five birdies to grab a share of the 36-hole lead.

n Two men’s golf tournaments co-sanctioned by the European and Asian Tours in Malaysia and China were postponed on Friday because of the deadly new virus from China.

The Maybank Championship in Kuala Lumpur scheduled for April 16-19, and the China Open in Shenzhen from April 23-26 were affected.

Rescheduling the events was being discussed, the European Tour said in a statement.

The sponsor and promoter Maybank requested that its event be postponed, while the decision regarding the China Open followed talks with the China Golf Association, tournament host Genzon Golf Club, the Shenzhen government, and sponsor Volvo.

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