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Jacobson's renaissance continues

Fredrik Jacobson tees off on the 16th hole at the Northern Trust Open, where he shoots 65 for a share of the lead.

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Fredrik Jacobson tees off on the 16th hole at the Northern Trust Open, where he shoots 65 for a share of the lead.

LOS ANGELES — A move down the California coast hasn't changed a thing for Fredrik Jacobson.

A week after his best finish in more than a year, Jacobson birdied the two toughest holes at Riviera on his way to 6-under 65 Friday and a share of the lead with Sang-Moon Bae after two rounds at the Northern Trust Open.

The Swede did just about everything well around the classic design of Riviera. And it helps to get a little luck, such as a 55-foot birdie from just off the green at No. 9 that bumped along for an unlikely birdie.

"That was probably the biggest bonus of the day," Jacobson said.

Bae played in the morning and began with four straight birdies, all from tap-in range until a 25-foot putt on the 13th. He wound up with birdies on half of his holes in his round of 65.

They were at 9-under 133, one shot clear of John Merrick (66) and John Rollins (65).

Still in the picture was Luke Donald, who chipped in twice for birdie and worked his short-game magic around the course for 66. Playing for the first time in two months, Donald was two shots behind.

Lee Westwood birdied the last hole for 68 to join a group at 6-under 136 with two major champions, Charl Schwartzel (67) and Webb Simpson (66).

Phil Mickelson was lurking despite a double bogey on the 10th hole. Mickelson still had 67 and was five shots back.

"I had a little hiccup on the 10th," he said. "I was just trying to make 4, and I couldn't even do that. But 4 under is not a bad round with the exception of No. 10. That took a great round and turned it into a pretty good round."

Twenty players were separated by five shots. They included defending champion Bill Haas (67) and Matt Kuchar, who had two double bogeys and shot 73. They were four shots behind. Sergio Garcia bogeyed three of his last five holes for 73 and was in the group at 4-under 138 that included Mickelson, Ernie Els and Adam Scott.

Jacobson has chronic back issues, and he has them under control at the moment.

Since his lone win at the Trave­lers Championship in summer 2011, he has only two top 10s in official PGA Tour events — a tie for eighth in Hartford as the defending champion and his tie for seventh last week at Pebble Beach.

"I obviously take a lot out of that; just being in contention again," he 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."

Ryo Ishikawa, who made bogey on the 18th from the middle of the fairway, wound up making his first cut of the year. Donald, the No. 3 player in the world, was one of three players from the top 20 who had yet to play a tournament this year, and they all played in the same group. Scott is still in the mix while Graeme McDowell had a 72 and missed the cut by one shot.

CHAMPIONS: Bernhard Langer holed out from the fairway for an eagle on the par-4 10th on his way to 10-under 62 and a three-stroke lead at the ACE Group Classic in Naples. Langer hit a 9-iron from 141 yards that went right in the cup on the 10th. He went on to play the back nine in 7-under 29 with the eagle and five birdies at the TwinEagles' Talon Course.

Jacobson's renaissance continues 02/15/13 [Last modified: Friday, February 15, 2013 11:06pm]
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