Thursday, December 14, 2017
Sports

Woods straight, true for lead

SAN DIEGO — Tiger Woods made one last birdie as the rain picked up Friday, and what he left behind was a gloomy forecast for everyone else at Torrey Pines.

He had a two-shot lead at the tournament he already has won six times.

He is driving long and straight, just what he needs on the par 5s, which he played in 9 under after two rounds.

As for experience, he has a 74-0 advantage in PGA Tour wins against the next seven guys on the leaderboard.

Woods, who is at 11-under 133, knows better than to chalk up another win in the Farmers Insurance Open, so when asked about his name atop the leaderboard after 7-under 65 on the North Course, he was quick to say, "We have a long way to go."

Playing the North Course, Woods hit a 5-iron to 5 feet for eagle and a wedge that one-hopped off the pin to set up birdie. That carried him to a two-shot lead over Billy Horschel going into the weekend.

Asked whether he played better when everything was going well in his life, Woods waited out the long question with a short answer: "I feel good right now. I'm leading the tournament."

Horschel, who went back to Q-school to get his card last year, had 69 on the South Course to get into the final group.

"It's a good day, and I'm excited about (today) — I get to play with Tiger," Horschel said. "I found out when I tapped in for par."

For Woods, it was his first outright lead going into the weekend against a full field since the Australian Open in 2011 (he finished third at The Lakes), and his first time atop the leaderboard at Torrey Pines since 2008. Then again, he has only played one time at this event since then when he was just starting to change his swing.

And while it looks ominous for everyone else, Woods with a 36-hole lead — even at Torrey Pines where he has won seven times as a pro — doesn't mean it's over. He is 34-10 with at least a share of the 36-hole lead but has failed to win four of the past six times from that spot.

Woods caught a break by playing the easier North — it's about 600 yards shorter — on a day of light rain, a late breeze and soft conditions. But he kept the ball in play off the tee, and he only got in trouble once. That was on the par-4 eighth when he drove into a tough lie in the bunker, and it led to his only bogey.

Six players were at 8-under 136 including Erik Compton, whom Woods called "remarkable" for being a two-time heart transplant recipient and being on tour.

Phil Mickelson struggled to keep his hands dry in the wet weather and finished bogey-bogey on the South for 71 to make the cut on the number at 1-under 143.

PGA EUROPE: Chris Wood shot 8-under 64 to move to 15-under 201 and a three-stroke lead on Michael Campbell and two others after the third round of the Qatar Masters in Doha. Second-round leader Sergio Garcia (70) fell into a tie for fifth, four strokes out.

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Published: 12/13/17