After nearly taking the lead on Thursday Tiger Woods stormed to the top of the leaderboard after getting his chance to play the North course. The weather in La Jolla was misty and dreary, unlike the perfect conditions on Thursday but there was still a lot of low rounds to be had. Once again the North course was home to lower scores and was considerably easier than the South playing to an average par of 71.78 and 73.11 respectively. There were 16 golfers who shot 4 under or better on Friday and 15 of them were playing in the North, no wonder the average score was 67.75.
Tiger Woods was one of those players, starting his round from the 10th tee just a few strokes behind the leader at the beginning of the day. Woods found himself 1 under on the round through his first 7 holes after his putter woes continued. He missed two putts from inside 8 feet on the opening two holes and there was question is Tigers putting woes would continue. Those questions were brought up before Tiger would score birdie or better on the next 4 holes. The highlight of that stretch was an eagle on the par 5 18th hole after an impressive approach shot with a 5 iron to with 5 feet of the stick. After making birdie on 7 Woods found himself 7 under par on the day, 11 under in the tournament and with a 3 stroke lead.
He made an errant tee shot on the 8th hole which would eventually lead to his only bogey of the day but Tiger would bounce back on the next hole. Woods would take that stroke back on the par 5 9th with a two-putt birdie, and continued to dominate the par 5′s at Torrey Pines. Tiger leads the field in Par 5 play, with 2 eagles, 5 birdies and a par, scoring 9 under on those 8 holes. His play on the long holes is the reason that he leads this tournament at 11 under and if it weren’t for some missed putts this tournament could already be out of hand. Tiger had just one less putt on Friday than Thursday but a big reason for his low scores was because he hit 12 of 14 fairways, 7 more than Thursday and he was hitting the greens.
Woods has a 2 stroke lead on Billy Horschel and a 3 stroke lead on a group of 6 golfers at 8 under and Tiger is hoping to improve his 34-10 record after capturing the 36 hole lead. Tiger used to never blow a lead on the weekend but the last time he was in this tournament he did just that, shooting 74 and 75 on Saturday and Sunday and falling into a tie for 44th. Realistically out of the last 6 times that Woods has held the lead going into the weekend, he would lose it 4 times. The last time Woods had a lead heading into Saturday against a full field was in the 2011 Australian Open, where he would finish 3rd.
Billy Horschel will paired with Woods on Saturday, but the two already have a fraction of a relationship. Not the type of relationship rumored between Woods and U.S. Skier Lindsey Vonn, but rather Tiger gave Billy a sponsor’s exemption to play in the AT&T National to get his pro career started. Now the two will tee off the South course on Saturday with just a couple strokes between them. Horschel propelled himself into this spot with a 6 under on Thursday and score a 3 under 69 on the South course Friday. Billy could have taken a 1 stroke lead on Tiger with his 6 birdies in round 2 but he tallied 3 bogeys and would have to settle for sole possession of 2nd place on the leaderboard. Horschel is hoping that he can hang tough with Woods and improve his best PGA Tour finish, which currently stands at a 3rd place finish at the 2012 True South Classic.
Joining Tiger and Billy will be Casey Wittenberg one of the 6 golfers tied at 8 under, trailing Woods by 3 strokes. Wittenberg played the South course on Thursday and scored a bogey-free 69 but jumped into a tie for 3rd after his 5 under 67 on the North course Friday. Hopefully Wittenberg and Horschel will fare better than Rickie Fowler did playing in a group with Woods. Fowler shot a 5 over par 77 in the opening round with Woods in his group but tied Tiger for the tournament’s low score of 65 on Friday, just barely making the cut.
Erik Compton also shot a 65 on the North course and like Woods he did it on the Par 5′s scoring an eagle, 2 birdies and a par. Compton is in his 2nd year on the PGA Tour despite his age, 33, but he has a story unlike many other pro golfers. Erik Compton finally had his dream come true of joining the Tour last season despite undergoing 2 heart transplants during his life. Compton is one of the slew of players at 8 under, including Steve Marino, Jimmy Walker, Josh Teater and Brad Fritsch. Fritsch is the only player on the South course to shoot better than 4 under with his 5 under 67. Did I mention that of the top 8 players Tiger Woods has 74 career victories to the combined total of 0 from the other 7 golfers.
Brandt Snedeker and K.J. Choi were in the lead after day 1 but Snedeker had just a single birdie and 4 bogeys on the way to his 3 over 75, dropping into a tie for 31st. Choi who shot an amazing 7 under on the tough South course came out on Friday but couldn’t get it together on Friday shooting 3 bogeys and 2 birdies for a 1 over 73 and falling into a tie for 16th. Scott Stallings was just a stroke behind those two after Thursday but the erratic game of the young golfer continued less than a week after blowing the lead at the Humana Challenge. Stallings dominated the North course shooting 6 under but came out and shot a 6 over par 78 on Friday to miss the cut which was eventually set at 1 under. Young Japanese golfer Ryo Ishikawa had a worse day, shooting a 4 under on Thursday and then not carding a single birdie on the way to a 7 over par 79 on the South course.
Phil Mickelson just barely squeezed into the weekend shooting a 1 under 71 on Friday after scoring even par on Thursday. Lefty has made more of an impact this week for the words that have come out of his mouth in the past week, rather than his golf game. Mickelson was sitting at 3 under through 16 holes before bogeying the final 2 and settling for his 71. We can all give a round of applause to Mike Weir who made the cut for the first time since 2011, despite shooting a 75 on Friday. Due to the large field the Farmers Insurance Open will be cutting the 87 player field again after the completion of the 54th hole.