Fowler, Day struggle on the easier North Course
The two highest-ranked players in the field couldn't sustain momentum in Rd. 1 at Torrey Pines
January 28, 2016
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
- Rickie Fowler shot 1-over 73 during the morning wave. He is coming off a win in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. (Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO – A few observations following Thursday’s opening round of the Farmers Insurance Open, where Scott Brown and Andrew Loupe share the lead at 6 under. For more on the day's action, click here to read the Daily Wrap-up.
1. Defending champion Jason Day had flu-like symptoms. Rickie Fowler flew around the world.
The two highest-ranked players at the Farmers Insurance Open struggled in the first round at Torrey Pines’ easier North Course. Fowler shot a 1-over 73, while Day finished a shot better at even.
Fowler, who won last week’s European Tour event in Abu Dhabi, said jet lag wasn’t to blame for his play Thursday, which he called “terrible.”
“I felt good coming in here, got the rest that I needed, but I just got it going the wrong way today,” said Fowler, who’s No. 4 in the Official World Golf Ranking. The Farmers Insurance Open is something of a home event for Fowler, who grew up about an hour away in Murrieta.
Fowler is No. 35 in the FedExCup. He was 3 over on his first three holes Thursday, but rebounded with three birdies to make the turn in even par. He reached 1 under with a birdie at his 10th hole, No. 1 at the North Course, but made two bogeys coming in.
Day, who withdrew from Wednesday’s pro-am because of his illness, made three consecutive birdies on Nos. 13-15 to reach 3 under. He had just one birdie against four bogeys the rest of the way. Day, who teed off on No. 10, made bogeys on Nos. 7 and 8 before failing to make birdie from the fairway on the par-5 ninth hole.
Day did not speak to reporters after the round.
“I could tell he’s tired and worn out,” Day's caddie Col Swatton said. “He said it’s mainly just physically, he has no energy. We talked about it, back and forth, but he wants to compete, he wants to play. He’s defending champion. No one wants to pull out of any event, let alone one that you’re defending.
“He practiced extremely hard last week. He had some really good sessions. He said it was the best he’s hit it for a long time. It’s just disappointing to not be able to come here and use all that hard work.”
Pair of 66's lead the way at the Farmers Insurance Open
2. Phil Mickelson’s strong start to his season continued Thursday. His 3-under 69, which was capped off by a 27-foot birdie putt at the par-5 18th, was his lowest score at the South Course since 2011. He made double-bogey on the second hole, but had six birdies and just a single bogey the rest of the way.
He opened his season with a third-place finish at last week’s CareerBuilder Challenge.
“I’m having a lot of fun because I feel like I’ve got control of the ball,” Mickelson said. “I feel like the driver feels easy to hit. I’m looking forward to every drive and my irons are starting to click.”
He hit six of 14 fairways and 11 of 18 greens in regulation. He was 12th in strokes gained: tee-to-green and ninth in strokes gained: putting.
Mickelson has three victories in his hometown event, but hasn’t finished in the top-10 here since 2011.
Phil Mickelson interview after Round 1 of Farmers
3. Scott Brown and Andrew Loupe share the lead after the first round. Brown’s 66 came on the more difficult South Course, while Loupe shot that score on the North. The South Course played to a 73.4 scoring average Thursday, while players averaged 70.9 on the North.
Brown shot 77, 77 and 80 in his three previous rounds at Torrey Pines’ South Course. He’s never made the cut in at this event.
He made eight birdies and three pars over the final 11 holes Thursday on a South Course lined by thick rough.
“If you're out of position, you're immediately playing for par,” said Brown, who is No. 55 in the FedExCup. “Fortunately, I drove it good and hit a lot of good iron shots today and a lot of really easy looks at birdie.”
The long-hitting Loupe made eagles on his first and 18th holes on Thursday. He is coming off a career-best T3 finish at last week’s CareerBuilder Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation.
“I was just able to hit the fairway on both those par-5s and it was shorter over there on the North Course so I had irons in my hand and I was able to hit a couple good ones in there,” said Loupe, who is No. 28 in the FedExCup.
He has three top-10s and three missed cuts in six starts this season. He regained his TOUR card via last year’s Web.com Tour Finals, where he won the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship.
4. The Farmers Insurance Open is Paul Dunne’s first PGA TOUR start as a pro. His 69 on the South Course was topped by only three players.
Dunne gained fame at last year’s Open Championship, when he held the 54-hole lead while still an amateur. He earned his European Tour card at Q-School in December, and finished ninth in his most recent start, the Joburg Open.
RELATED: Find out 10 things to know about Paul Dunne
Australian phenom Ryan Ruffels is also making his pro debut this week. The 17-year-old shot 70 on the North Course.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
Extremely hard. But it's fair. ... You can't make any big numbers out there because as soon as you get behind the 8-ball, you can't press and try to make birdies.
CALL OF THE DAY
Phil Mickelson holes a superb putt for birdie at the Farmers Insurance Open.
Free play-by-play coverage of the second round streams from 1-7 p.m. ET Friday on PGATOUR.COM.
SHOT OF THE DAY
Shot of the Day
Phil Mickelson’s near hole-in-one is the Shot of the Day
BEST OF SOCIAL MEDIA
Saving his best for first and last ... Co-leader Andrew Loupe opens with eagle. And closes with eagle. pic.twitter.com/yit7Yr9R2T— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) January 29, 2016