Daily Wrap-up: Round 1, Farmers Insurance OpenJanuary 26, 2012
Staff and wire reports
LA JOLLA, Calif. -- Spencer Levin and Kyle Stanley knew they had to post low scores on the easier North Course at Torrey Pines to get off to a good start Thursday in the Farmers Insurance Open, and did even better than they expected.
Stanley made eagle on his final hole for a 10-under 62, his best score in two years on the PGA Tour. Levin shot 29 on the back nine and had a 62, matching his career best on tour, as they claimed a share of the lead after the first round.
"I played the pro-am on the North Course yesterday. There were just a lot of birdie opportunities out there, so I knew there was a good score -- maybe not 10 (under), but I'll take it," Stanley said.
They were a shot ahead of reigning FedExCup champion Bill Haas, who had a double bogey on his 15th hole and still managed a 63. The top 12 on the leaderboard played the North, which played slightly more than 3 1/2 strokes easier than the South Course, which hosted the U.S. Open four years ago.
The best score from the South was Marc Turnesa at 66.
Phil Mickelson, meanwhile, went south on the South. The three-time champion hit into 11 bunkers, missed a 3-foot birdie putt on the final hole and signed for a 77. It was his highest score at Torrey Pines since a 78 in the third round of 2005.
"I made some bad swings just in the wrong spot and so forth," Mickelson said. "I felt like my game was ready heading in, and I don't know what to say about the score. Because it was pathetic."
A year ago, the fairways were pinched in and the rough was unusually high on the North Course, helping to make up for the 604-yard difference between the two courses. Based on the scores, that's no longer the case.
Of the 54 players who shot in the 60s, only 13 of them were on the South Course. One of them was Paul Goydos, who doesn't buy into the theory of two vastly different courses and said the tournament really doesn't start until Saturday when everyone has played both.
"Ten under is leading the tournament, and anyone who says differently is full of it," Goydos said. "I looked at the leaderboard."
Shot of the Day: Stanley
Kyle Stanley's 173-yard approach shot leads to an eagle on the par-5 18th hole.
He would argue that some players simply have better vibes on the different courses. What might be a big difference to one player might be much less to another.
"All I know is that I'm six shots back and I've got to deal with it," he said.
Levin noticed only one big change in his game, and that was putting the ball in play. That made quite the difference, setting up short irons and plenty of birdie opportunities.
"I had some putts for birdies instead of pars, and kind of added up to a good score," Levin said.
The turning point came when Levin thought he might make bogey. He drove into the bunker on No. 7, leaving him an uphill shot to a difficult green, blocked partially by a tree.
"I was thinking I wouldn't have a shot. I was thinking it's probably going to be a bogey, and I'll go back to even (par)," Levin said. "I cut an 8-iron around and go on the right side of the green and hit a 20-footer -- it probably broke 10 feet -- and I made it. So it felt like at least a one-shot swing."
Torey Pines North: Thursday EASIEST HOLE TOUGHEST HOLE The par-5 18th hole was the easiest with a Thursday scoring average of 4.179.
EAGLES: 3 BIRDIES: 44 PARS: 26 BOGEYS: 0 OTHER: 2
The par-3 12th hole was the toughest with a Thursday scoring average of 3.346.
EAGLES: 0 BIRDIES: 4 PARS: 46
BOGEYS: 25 OTHERS: 3
Torey Pines South: Thursday EASIEST HOLE TOUGHEST HOLE The par-5 6th hole was the easiest with a Thursday scoring average of 4.795.
EAGLES: 1 BIRDIES: 24 PARS: 45 BOGEYS: 6 OTHER: 2
The par-4 4th hole was the toughest with a Thursday scoring average of 4.449.
EAGLES: 0 BIRDIES: 5 PARS: 35
BOGEYS: 36 OTHERS: 2
About the leaders • Spencer Levin was 1 under through his first six holes before adding nine birdies in his last 12 holes. • He has held/shared the first-round lead four times in his previous 101 starts on TOUR -- most recently at the 2011 Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he went on to finish T6. • Levin matched his career-best round of 62 (9-under) at the 2009 Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospital Open. • Kyle Stanley eagled the final hole (No. 18) on the North Course for a 10-under 62 • His 62 is a career-low round. Stanley's previous best was a 64 in the second round at the 2011 Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. • Held/shared the first-round lead once before in his career -- 2011 Mayakoba Golf Classic (T13)
He followed with a birdie on the par-5 ninth, and making the turn at 3 under instead of 1 under changed everything for him.