K.J. Choi of South Korea and American Gary Woodland share a one-shot lead over American Dustin Johnson entering Saturday’s third round of the $6.5 million Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla.
Choi and Woodland both began Friday’s second round among a group of seven golfers tied for eighth, two shots off the lead, the fired five-under-par 67s to go to nine-under-par 135 for the tournament.
Choi played the North Course and had seven birdies and bogeys on the par- 3 12th hole and par-4 fourth.
“I heard that (Saturday) and the weekend is going to be very windy and rainy, so I hope to improve on the driving and be more stable on the putting,” said Choi, who tied for second in the 2014 Farmers Insurance Open and is seeking his first victory on the PGA Tour since the 2011 Players Championship.
Woodland played the South Course, birdieing five of his first nine holes. He had three more birdies on the back nine, but bogeyed the par-4 12th hole, the par-3 16th and par-4 17th.
“I drove the ball exceptionally well (Friday), especially early in the round,” said Woodland, who is seeking his first victory on the PGA Tour since the 2013 Barracuda Championship. “Gave myself a lot of chances.”
While the tournament’s first two rounds are split between the North and South courses, the final two are played exclusively on the South Course.
“This golf course suits me really well,” Woodland said. “A lot of holes go left-to-right. I can just hit driver and hit as hard as I want and keep the ball in play.
“I don’t hit my drivers on a lot of courses, but this golf course allows me to hit a lot of drivers, so I feel I have a huge advantage out here.”
The field was reduced to the low 70 plus ties following the conclusion of Friday’s play. Among the players failing to make cut of 1-under-143 were defending champion Jason Day, San Diego native Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler.
Day followed an opening-round even-par 72 on the North Course with a two-over-par 74 on the South Course to become the tournament’s first defending champion to miss the cut since Jose Maria Olazabal in 2003.
Day said he came down with a fever Jan. 22, “had a fever all day for four or five straight days” and was treated at a hospital twice on Tuesday. He missed Wednesday’s pro-am because of a bout with the flu.
“I just had no energy” on Thursday, said Day, an Australian second on the Official World Golf Ranking behind American Jordan Spieth. “I had a little bit more energy (Friday), but I’m just fighting through it.
“It’s no excuse. I would have loved to play a little bit better. Having three three-putts out there the last two days definitely hurts and playing the par-5s not very well this week definitely hurt and that’s why I’m not here on the weekend.
“It’s frustrating and disappointing, but it’s a process and I got to try and get better from here and hopefully some good weeks ahead of me.”
Day said he plans to return to play in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am which begins Feb. 11. Mickelson shot a three-under-par 69 on the South Course Thursday, putting him in a 19-way tie for 15th, three shots off the lead, then shot a four-over-par 76 on the North Course Friday.
Mickelson began his round on the back nine. He had a double-bogey on the par-5 18th, where he drove into the right rough and pushed his second shot into the parking lot to the left of the course. The ball bounced several times on the the pavement before coming to rest under the fence that lines the hole.
Mickelson hit his third shot into a greenside bunker, then three-putted for the double-bogey. He concluded his round with three consecutive bogeys, missing the cut for the second consecutive year and the sixth time in the 27 years he has played in the tournament.
“I had a good round going and then had that double on 18 and a few other mistakes. Bogeys from the fairway with wedges. Just some dumb things. I don’t really have a great explanation.
“But I still feel very confident with how I’m swinging and where my game’s headed, so I’ll move on to Phoenix, spend this weekend working on it and try to get it in,” referring to the Waste Management Phoenix Open, which begins Thursday.
Fowler, fourth on the Official World Golf Ranking, shot a one-under-par 71 on the South Course after a opening round one-over-par 73 on the North Course.
“Just a little inconsistent the past two days,” said Fowler, who won the European Tour’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, which concluded Sunday.
“Definitely didn’t make the putts that would make a difference. I missed quite a few (Thursday). And then (Friday)… I felt like I hit some good putts and just kind of snuck by.”
Also missing the cut was Xander Schauffele, a San Diego State and Scripps Ranch High School alumnus who was playing in the tournament for the first time. He shot a three-over-par 75 on the South Course Thursday and a four- over-par 76 on the North Course Friday.
Scott Brown shot a one-under-par 71 on the North Course Friday to fall into a three-way tie for fourth at seven-under-par 137, two shots off the lead, after sharing the first-round lead with a six-under-par 66 on the South Course on Thursday.
The other first-round co-leader, Andrew Loupe, is in an 11-way tie for 27th at three-under-par 141, six shots off the lead after a three-over-par 75 on the South Course Friday.
Ireland’s Paul Dunne, who is making his PGA Tour debut as a professional, is among nine golfers tied for 18th, five shots off the lead at four-under-par 140.
As an amateur, Dunne shared the lead after third round of last year’s British Open, then shot a final-round six-over-par 78 at St. Andrews to finish in a tie for 30th.
Saturday is University Day, with players and fans encouraged to wear their school colors or logo. Farmers Insurance will contribute $500 to the college golf teams of all players who participate.
— City News Service
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