Tiger Woods made it look easy on a dreary day at Torrey Pines and wound up in a place he hasn’t been in five years.
He had the 36-hole lead by himself at one of his favorite PGA Tour stops.
Woods didn’t miss a shot during a four-hole stretch around the turn on the North Course that included a 5-iron to 5 feet for eagle and a wedge that one-hopped off the pin to set up birdie. It carried him to a 7-under 65 on Friday and gave him a 2-shot lead in the Farmers Insurance Open.
“I feel good right now,” Woods said. “I’m leading the tournament.”
Woods was at 11-under 133 and had a 2-shot lead over Billy Horschel, with six other players 2 shots behind. Already a favorite with 7 wins as a pro at Torrey Pines, Woods had even more in his favor going into the weekend. He had a 74-0 edge in PGA Tour wins against the next seven players behind him.
Horschel, who had to go back to Q-school to get his card last year, had a 69 on the South Course to get into final group.
Woods caught a break in the draw by playing the easier North — it’s about 600 yards shorter — on a day of light rain, a late breeze and soft conditions. But he kept the ball in play off the tee, and he only got in trouble once. That was on the par-4 eighth hole (his 17th) when he drove into a tough lie in the bunker, and it led to his only bogey.
There’s a simple formula for playing the North — make birdie on the par 5s and pick up a few more on the short par 4s. And that’s just what he did.
Woods missed birdie putts inside 8 feet on the opening two holes and was taking baby steps until he took off. It started with a 25-foot birdie putt on the 17th. He followed with the 5-iron that landed just left of the pin on the 18th, a 2-putt birdie on the par-5 first hole, and his wedge that took one hop, struck the flag and settled 4 feet away.
“Drive the ball well here and you’re going to probably have four iron shots into the par 5s,” Woods said. “You sprinkle that in with probably four or five wedge shots in there, a round of 6- or 7-under par is definitely conceivable.”
Phil Mickelson struggled to keep his hands dry in the wet weather and finished bogey-bogey on the South for a 71 to make the cut on the number, though his work isn’t over. There were 87 players who made the cut at 1-under 143, meaning there will be another cut to top 70 and ties today.
Still, this has the trappings of another Tiger show at Torrey.
It was his first outright lead going into the weekend against a full field since the Australian Open in 2011 (he finished third at The Lakes).
Woods is coming off a missed cut in Abu Dhabi last week to start his year.
“I’ve had beautiful practice sessions at home,” he said. “If I can do it there, I can do it out here. Even though last week I played only two days, I felt like I hit the ball well enough to shoot a better score than I did. I had a couple of days to work on it, and I came out here and felt pretty good about it.”
Chris Wood shot an 8-under 64 for a 3-stroke lead on Michael Campbell and two others after the third round of the Qatar Masters.
Wood started the day 2 shots behind Ryder Cup stars Sergio Garcia and Martin Kaymer but moved up the leaderboard with 5 birdies on the front nine en route to a 15-under 201.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.