By Rory Carroll
SAN DIEGO (Reuters) – Ryan Palmer’s birdie blitz vaulted him into a two-stroke lead while Tiger Woods recovered from a terrible start in the second round of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines on Friday.
The sizzling Palmer had 11 birdies with his only blemish being a bogey on his final hole to shoot a 10-under par 62 on a sunny day at the ocean-side course.
After shooting an even opening round, the 43-year-old came alive on the North Course to sit on 134 at the halfway point.
Palmer said remaining accurate off the tee would be crucial when play is limited to the more challenging South Course over the weekend.
“The rough is thick enough to where you have to hit the driver good and fortunately we’re doing that,” said Palmer, who is aiming for his fifth career PGA Tour victory.
“If I keep driving the ball the way I have been, I’ll have some chances.
“It’s awesome to shoot a low round like that but it’s always tough to follow it up. But it’s exciting and I love where my game is at.”
Palmer leads fellow American Brandt Snedeker, who is eight-under after two rounds.
Woods had a disastrous start with a double bogey on the par-four first on the South Course due to some uncharacteristically careless putting. The 44-year-old American grimaced and uttered an expletive under his breath after a rare four putt.
But the 15-time major champion, gunning for a record-breaking 83rd PGA Tour victory this week, then settled down, mixing five birdies with two bogeys the rest of the way to sit six strokes off the lead heading into the weekend.
“Not exactly the best of starts but I figured it out and turned it around,” Woods said.
“Unfortunately made a mistake at 17 that cost me a shot. Good birdie at 18 though.”
Woods said his trouble on Friday had nothing to do with any added pressure he feels about breaking Sam Snead’s longstanding record.
“Shot by shot got me to 82,” he said.
“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.
“Just trying to be there at the end and you never know what happens at the end,” added Woods, who is an eight-time winner at Torrey Pines including the 2008 U.S. Open.
Rory McIlroy, who can become world number one for the first time since 2015 with a win on Sunday, had a solid start but struggled toward the finish with three bogeys on the back nine for a round of one-over par.
Like Woods, the Northern Irishman is four-under for the tournament.
World number 25 Rickie Fowler, veteran Phil Mickelson and San Diego native Xander Schauffele were among the players who missed the cut.
(Editing by Ken Ferris/Peter Rutherford)