Familiar faces line up for weekend at Torrey Pines
January 24, 2020
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
Shot of the Day
Brandt Snedeker's bunker hole-out is the Shot of the Day
SAN DIEGO – There is no doubt Torrey Pines has been a playground for Tiger Woods. With his eight career wins at the venue they say he owns the joint. But as we head to the weekend at the Farmers Insurance Open he is not the only familiar name on the leaderboard at the seaside gem in Southern California.
Woods sits six shots off the pace at four under through 36-holes as we head to the South Course for the weekend, a position he’s won from three times at the venue. He’s looking up at leader Ryan Palmer who shot an incredible 10-under 62 on the North Course Friday to be two clear at the top.
The veteran Woods is chasing an 83rd PGA TOUR win which would take him out of a tie with Sam Snead for the most wins of all-time. It would also break his own record of wins at one venue.
“Shot by shot got me to 82. It's one of those things where it's just a process, it's a marathon, it's four days, it's a long haul,” Woods said. “Just trying to be there at the end and you never know what happens at the end.”
Palmer is no stranger to being amongst it at Torrey. Two years ago he held the lead at the same point and eventually battled with Jason Day and Alex Noren in a playoff only to fall short. A year ago he was T3 at the halfway mark before fading to 13th.
The Texan was actually 11 under with a hole to play on the North Friday with an outside chance of going sub-60 before a final hole bogey. He’s already ahead of the target he set for the week but is acutely aware that five of the last seven versions of the event have seen the winning score in relation to par come backwards from the 36-hole mark.
While the North Course is traditionally much easier (it played to a 70.574 average for opening two rounds compared to 73.297 on the South), the South Course can be an animal at times depending on softness of the greens, thickness in the air and other factors.
“We said if we shot two under every day, we would have a chance and be close, at least have a chance to win,” Palmer said. “So it's nice to be ahead of that mark by two.”
Palmer opened Thursday on the South with a round of 72. He needed to fight back from being three over through eight holes to do that.
“The South is not a golf course that you're going to go out and shoot low… when it gets on the weekend things tighten up a little bit as far as pressure,” he added.
“I don't see any low rounds out there. A low round on that golf course tomorrow and Sunday is probably 4 or 5 under par. We shoot a couple under, we'll be in good shape.”
Ryan Palmer's interview after Round 2 of Farmers
Second place is currently held by Brandt Snedeker at 8 under. One clever scribe was heard to say if Woods owns Torrey, then Snedeker must rent it. He’s a two-time winner at Torrey Pines in 2012 and 2016 and has been runner up twice, third another time and inside the top-10 a further two times.
“This golf course, for whatever reason, sets up really well for me. I kind of know how you're supposed to play it. You've got to think your way around it. Everybody thinks it's this huge golf course and you've got to overpower it, and that's not the case,” Snedeker said.
“The greens here… they test you in a different way than most greens test you. You're going to hit some great putts that don't go in, so you've got to have a good mindset and realize it's part of being on poa annua. I always have, I love it, so hopefully continue to do it over the weekend.”
Amongst four players sharing third at 7 under is J.B. Holmes. He lost a playoff in 2015 at Torrey Pines, was a shot out of another in 2018, and was sixth in 2016. Keegan Bradley is part of five players at 6 under and he’s notched up two top-5s here in the last three years.
Jon Rahm is part of a five-way tie for 12th at 5 under. The Spaniard won here on debut in 2017 and was fifth a year ago. Then we get to Woods at 4 under. He has seven Farmers Insurance wins (1999, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2013) and also won the 2008 U.S. Open at the venue. Between 1998 and 2008 his worse finish was T10. Off his 19 events prior to this week 15 of them finished with him inside the top 25.
“If you make the cut on the number here, anything can happen on the South Course, especially the way it's playing now,” Woods said. “It's so much more difficult and I think so much more volatile because of the fact that if you shoot a good round out here on the South, you'll move up the board.”
Among the 20 players joining Woods at 4 under are more Torrey Pines specialists.
Jason Day: a two-time winner (2015, 2018) with another further three top 10s.
Bubba Watson: 2011 winner, two further top-10s.
Scott Stallings: 2014 winner, 2015 runner-up.
Marc Leishman: Four top-10s including two runners-up.
And with further Torrey form, albeit to a lesser extent;
Rory McIlroy: T5 in lone appearance last season.
Tony Finau: Five top-25s from five starts, two top-10s.
Billy Horschel: Two top-10s.
Hideki Matsuyama: T12 and T3 the last two seasons.
Lucas Glover: Three top-10s.
Joel Dahmen: Top 10 last year.
If you add the fact the 4 under group also contains former FedExCup champion Jordan Spieth and current PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year Sungjae Im then you can be sure it’s going to be a weekend worth watching.