Believe it or not there were other golfers participating in the Farmers Insurance Open other than Tiger Woods, so I will devote this article to them. Brandt Snedeker and K.J. Choi played on opposite courses Thursday but both men shot 7 under 65’s to tie for the lead after the first round at Torrey Pines. Snedeker achieved his on the more generous North course which played to a par of 70.64 during the first round. Choi’s came on the new South course which played at a 71.72 average, too bad for K.J. he doesn’t gain that extra stroke.
Brandt Snedeker is the returning champion and picked up right where he left off last year. Snedeker was the best putter on Tour last season making him difficult to beat when he’s hitting the greens. Brandt would find 15 of the 18 greens in regulation on the way to a bogey free 7 under par. He has now hit 103 greens in regulation in 126 attempts, if only he was putting like he did last year. Snedeker placed 3rd in the Tournament of Champions and hopes to book his ticket back to Hawaii by repeating here. He needs to improve his putting, taking 29 strokes in his first 18 averaging 1.6 putts per green.
K.J. Choi played the more difficult course and still recorded birdies on 8 of the last 12 holes on the way to his 7 under. But wait you just said he birdied 8 holes, that’s right, but he also took a bogey on the par 4 17th. Choi didn’t hit as many GIR as Snedeker but he took 4 less putts and had a 1.835 strokes gained from putting average after the first round. Although Choi averaged more than 25 feet to the pin, his putter was hot and he rode it to the top of the leaderboard. Although Choi and Snedeker had different rounds on different courses, they are tied for the lead but just 2 strokes separate them from 33 other golfers.
There are 8 golfers tied for 3rd including two players who had a major collapse in last week’s humana Challenge, Charles Howell III and Scott Stallings. Stallings was in the lead last week before shooting his worst round in Sunday and falling into a tie for 4th. CHIII made it to a playoff before losing on the 2nd hole to Brian Gay, but looking at it in a positive light he has 2 top 5 finishes in the first 3 tournaments. Both players score their 6 under 66’s on the North Course, actually 8 of the top 10 scores and all but 9 of the top 35 scores were shot on the easier course. Those who shot 4 under or better will look to separate themselves from the pack when they get their round on the North.
Tag Ridings is one of the golfers who had success on the South course but his round was mostly fueled by the Ace he shot on the 3rd hole. Josh Teater was 1 over after bogeying the 7th hole but like Choi dominated the final 11 holes shooting 7 birdies for his 6 under on the South course. Mike Weir also finds himself 1 stroke behind, hoping to snap a streak that dates back into the early portion of the 2011 season by actually making the cut. Weir needs to hope that he can shoot a decent round on Friday on the South course because his 6 under was shot on the North.
Phil Mickelson made more of a splash this past week with the comments he made involving the taxes he faces this year in California than he did in the golf tournament. Mickelson shot an even par 72 and despite backtracking on his comments on an impending “major decision” that he would make in the future. Mickelson needs to garnish attention for the work he does on the course, not what he says in the media before and after. He wouldn’t have to worry about his tax situation if he wasn’t able to make a fortune by playing a gentleman’s game as a profession. Let’s see if he even makes the cut.