The second round is in full swing with everyone on the golf course at Torrey Pines, where Chris Kirk has moved to the top of the leaderboard at 10 under after playing his first five holes on the South Course in 4 under.
Kirk isn’t the only player going low, though. Anthony Kim, who is tied for second with Rickie Fowler at 8 under, is also 4 under through his first five holes. Meanwhile, Tiger Woods, who is in the group with Kim and Rocco Mediate, is 3 under on his round. That has Woods in a tie for eighth at the moment with Phil Mickelson and overnight leader Sunghoon Kang, who is struggling at 2 over through five holes.
Woods’ ball-striking has been solid so far -- he missed just one green in regulation through his first five holes and two of his three birdies came from inside 8 feet ( click here to follow Woods live with Shot Tracker).
Also playing well is Bubba Watson, who is over on the North Course, where he’s 7 under through his first 11 holes and 7 under for the week. Watson began his round on the back nine and at one point made four straight birdies.
LA JOLLA, Calif. -- Sunghoon Kang entered his rookie season on the PGA TOUR trying to learn from top-tier players like Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk and his countryman, K.J. Choi.
After Kang shot 64 on the North Course in the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open, though, the 24-year-old South Korean suddenly finds himself holding the advantage over those same talented pros.
On Friday, Kang will enter just the fourth round of his PGA TOUR career with a one-stroke lead over Alex Prugh and Rickie Fowler, who was earning rookie of the year honors in the States last season while Kang was doing the same in Korea. Mickelson is three strokes behind while Woods trails by five.
Kang is trying hard not to get caught up in the situation, though. If he's in the same spot on Saturday, maybe. But right now, he's sticking to more modest goals.
"I don't really think about it," Kang said. "I'm really excited to be playing with them right now. There's Tiger, Phil, and really they are all really my goals. I always was trying to be like them. I'm really just happy with playing with them. I don't really try to beat them or something. I'm trying to learn from them all the time.
"I know they are really good, and I'll (be) trying to learn from them for this year especially and really trying to have fun. I don't want to put any pressure on me, so I'm really just trying to have fun."
Thursday certainly was enjoyable. Kang made six birdies and one eagle while dropping no shots to par. He played the par 5s in 4 under -- which was considerably better than Woods, who didn't make a birdie on any of the four.
"Actually, this course, all the par 5s are reachable, so I really tried to keep to the fairways and it worked really well," Kang said. " And I really had a good chance on par 5s. I made two birdies and 1 eagle. So I think I really have done well on par 5s today. That's why I played very well today."
Kang's eagle came at the 14th hole as he played the back nine in 31. He had 220 yards to the pin and hit a hybrid just next to the pin and through the green. Not to worry, Kang chipped in from there.
Kang was definitely hitting on all cylinders in the first round, finding 9 of 14 fairways, 14 of 18 greens and using just 27 putts. But he is wary of the South Course, traditionally the more challenging of the two, on Friday.
"I think the South course is way more difficult because the greens are way firmer and the course is a little bit longer," Kang said. "So still the fairways are pretty wide, so I can hit it pretty hard with the driver. I think if I hit my irons pretty good tomorrow, I think I'll still have a good round.
"I think I've really got to hit the right spot on the green, because the greens are really hard out there. So I have to use the undulations to get it close to the hole."
Kang started playing golf in 1996. His father, Heenam, was a single digit handicapper and Kang starting accompanying him to the course.
"I thought it just looked pretty fun," Kang said simply. "I told my dad I want to try golfing, and that's why I started. … I went out to the golf course and it was so beautiful. Everything's really green, and little bit of wind and everything's perfect. So I really felt great on that day, and I told my dad I really want to play golf, and he supports me a lot."
With his father's blessing, Kang went to Dallas in 2002 to follow his dream of playing the PGA TOUR and started taking lessons from Hank Haney. It's there that Kang learned to speak English so well. He took lessons from Haney for five years but as the instructor became more involved with Tiger Woods, Kang gravitated toward a California teaching pro named Don Brown.
Kang, who was a semifinalist at the U.S. Junior and U.S. Amateur Public Links, turned pro in 2007 at the age of 20. His older brother, Sungdo, is his caddy. There's a seven-year difference in their ages and Sungdo has been a stabilizing influence for his sibling.
"Even I kind of get angry or something, and he helps me a lot with that," Kang said. "He doesn't really want to push me too hard. In whatever I do, he really tries to understand me. I think we have a good relationship because he's my brother."
If Kang continues to play well over the next three days, Sungdo's counsel could be a big benefit for the young pro.
"Even (if) I play with Tiger and Phil, I know they're so much better than me right now, so I'm really trying to learn from them," Kang said. "I really want to learn how they play and how they do around the greens and how they work the ball and how they practice, and how their pre shot routines are. I really want to learn. Yeah, I just want to learn."
On Thursday, though, Kang was the one giving lessons. – Helen Ross
LA JOLLA, Calif. -- A lot has been written already this year about the New Breed and the Establishment on the PGA TOUR. It’s more than a marketing plan, though – and you have only to look at the leaders of the Farmers Insurance Open for proof.
Four of the five players currently tied for the lead at 5 under are 25 or younger – Chris Kirk (25), Sung-hoon Kang (24), Ben Martin (23) and Rickie Fowler (22). Brant Jobe at 45 is holding the banner for the “old” guys.
LA JOLLA, Calif. -- There's an interesting mix at the top of the leaderboard -- including two PGA TOUR rookies, one from Argentina and another from Korea.
Fabian Gomez and Sung-hoon Kang are among five players tied at 3 under, one stroke off the pace being set by Brandt Jobe. Gomez has played seven holes on the South Course while Kang is though six on the north.
The 32-year-old Gomez, who is from Argentina, is playing in his third TOUR event. He won his first Nationwide Tour event last year and also had a runner-up finish on the way to finishing 12th on the money list to earn his card.
Gomez started caddying when he was 8 years old and has won five events in South America. He's made his first two cuts on TOUR, tying for 68th in Hawaii and 61st at the Bob Hope Classic.
Kang earned his TOUR card when he tied for 16th at q-school in December. The 24-year-old has played on the Korean Tour, Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour -- with a career-best finish of second at the 2009 Ballantine's Championship.
Kang's father is an avid golfer and his brother serves as his caddie. He works with Hank Haney and Don Brown and reached the semifinals of both the U.S. Junior and U.S. Amateur Public Links.
Both rookies list Tiger woods as one of their two favorite athletes -- Kang also likes Kobe Bryant while Gomez is a fan of soccer great Diego Maradona. Who knows? Maybe they'll get to play with Woods this week. – Helen Ross