By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
PACIFIC PALISADES -- Practice sessions are one thing. Playing under pressure is another.
That's what Fredrik Jacobson found so satisfying about his tie for seventh last week at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am -- his first tournament since last October when he was sidelined by a back injury. And to come to Riviera this week and continue to play well has been an even bigger confidence boost.
Jacobson fired a 66 Friday afternoon during the second round of the Northern Trust Open to move into a tie for the lead with Sang-moon Bae. The 26-year-old Korean matched Jacobson's score on Friday and the two are tied at 9 under, one stroke ahead of John Merrick and John Rollins.
"Obviously take a lot out of that, just being in contention again," Jacobson said. "I've had some good practice sessions before, but to bring it on the course and play under pressure, that's what it's about. And the sooner I can get back and put myself in this position where I can get some pressure, that's the best practice you can get."
Among the players giving chase are the world's No. 3 and 8 players in Luke Donald and Lee Westwood. Donald is along in fifth at 7 under after shooting 66 on Friday while Westwood is tied with reigning U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson and 2011 Masters champ Charl Schwartzel.
Donald is making his 2013 PGA TOUR debut this week, and he's pleased with how he's played right out of the box.
"You never know with how you're going to deal with being back in competition again but certainly a big improvement today, ball-striking wise and my short game has been very sharp," he said. "I've been excited about that. It's been a big key to my score so far, and, yeah, excited to be in the mix again."
Simpson had the low round of the lot at 5 under while Schwartzel shot 67 and Westwood had his second-straight 68. Defending champion Bill Haas is among four players tied at 5 under after shooting 67 in the second round.
"The scoring is very bunched," Westwood said. "That's probably due to the greens. It's difficult to hole putts in the afternoon. You'll find most guys make a good score in the morning and the guys in the afternoon are happy -- well, I'm delighted with 3 under."
The cut came at 2 over after Robert Streb, playing in the last group of the day, made double bogey on his last hole. He had been among 70 players tied at 1 over but the double gave the players at 2 over a reprieve.
With 80 players making the cut, players are being sent off two tees starting at 10:45 a.m. ET (7:45 a.m. PT). Among those missing the cut are Graeme McDowell, playing for the first time in 2013; big-hitting Dustin Johnson; former UCLA standouts Corey Pavin and Patrick Cantlay and major champions Padraig Harrington, Mike Weir, Zach Johnson, Geoff Ogilvy, Bubba Watson and Lucas Glover.