The Upshot: Farmers Insurance, Rd. 2
January 24, 2014
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
- Spieth shot a 63 on Friday on the North Course to take the second-round lead from Torrey Pines. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)
LA JOLLA, Calif. -- A year ago, Tiger Woods was on his way to winning his eighth career Farmers Insurance Open title.
Jordan Spieth wasn’t even here to see it. He missed the cut in what was his debut as a professional.
What a difference 12 months makes.
Spieth stole the spotlight from Woods on Friday, shooting 63 on the North Course to take a one-shot lead over Stewart Cink heading into the weekend at Torrey Pines. Cink shot 71 on the more difficult South Course.
Woods, meanwhile, couldn’t keep up. Playing alongside Spieth, the seven-time winner of the event struggled for a second straight day. He again failed to birdie a single par 5 and stumbled to a 71 to drop nine off the pace.
Spieth, on the other hand, could seemingly do no wrong. He poured in a bending 15-footer for birdie on his first hole of the day, the par-4 10th, and was off and running.
The 20-year-old Texan added eight more birdies, including three in a row at one point, and missed just one green in regulation all day. He also looked comfortable playing with Woods -- their only other round together came during practice at The Presidents Cup last fall.
“I wasn't intimidated by any means,” Spieth said of Woods.
Why should he be? Over the last year all he has done is become the first teenager to win on the PGA TOUR in more than 80 years, get picked for The Presidents Cup and be named Rookie of the Year.
"The kid's got talent," Woods said of Spieth. "He hits it a long way, phenomenal putter. He made a boat load of putts today from the 10- to 20-foot range, and on poa greens, that's not easy to do. He was pouring them in there. He had speed to them, too. That's what you have to do to putt on poa.
"He putted with a lot of confidence."
The same couldn’t be said for Woods, who hit just five fairways and took 30 putts on his way to only two birdies and one bogey on a golf course that played four strokes easier than the more difficult South Course.
"I wouldn't say (my game is) rusty," said Woods, who is playing for the first time in six weeks. "I was just a fraction off, and at this level and on golf courses like this, if you're just a fraction off it doesn't take much, especially as tight as the North Course is.
“I had so many balls that landed in the fairway that went in the rough. When you should be able to fire at some of these flags, I just couldn't."
PHIL’S BAD BACK: Phil Mickelson played through back stiffness for the second straight day and said afterward he doesn’t know whether he’ll be able to continue.
"I'm a little bit unsure," Mickelson said following a 1-over 73 on Torrey Pines' South Course. "I love this tournament and I want to play here ... part of me also says that I'm getting in bad habits and if I hit it in this rough here, I've really got an issue because I've got to swing awfully hard to get it out and it jars it, so I'm a little torn right now on the best plan of action."
Mickelson's back tightened up halfway through his opening round, but he played through it. He received treatment afterward and again on Friday morning prior to his round.
WOODS’ PAR-5 WOES: Through two rounds of last year’s Farmers Insurance Open, Tiger Woods was a collective 9 under on Torrey Pines’ par 5s.
This year? He’s 1 over with seven pars and one bogey, the latter of which came on Friday on the ninth hole when Woods got in trouble off the tee.
It’s just the sixth time in Woods’ PGA TOUR career that he has failed to make a birdie on a par 5 through the first 36 holes of an event with the last coming at the 2012 Honda Classic.
IN CINK: Since winning the 2009 Open Championship, Stewart Cink has just eight top 10s on the PGA TOUR.
But Thursday’s leader remains in contention heading into the weekend here mostly thanks to his ball-striking.
Cink, who entered the week ranked 54th in greens in regulation, leads the field in that stat at Torrey Pines, where he has hit 32 of 36 greens.
“It's really started to feel much more comfortable out there,” Cink said. “When I can get the putter sort of unlocked, I have a good round like I did (Thursday).”
Cink will play with Spieth in the day’s final group on Saturday.
BIG NAMES WHO MISSED THE CUT: It happens every tournament: Players not expected to miss the cut do. This week was no exception.
Brandt Snedeker, who won here in 2012, was a runner-up last year and in 2010 and was third in 2007, shot 77-72 to miss making it to the weekend by five.
Rickie Fowler, who also opened with a 77, couldn’t recover either. He shot 70 on Friday and missed the mark by three.