SAN DIEGO – Tiger Woods made one last birdie as the rain picked up strength 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 the ball long and straight, just what he needs to handle the par 5s – he has played them in 9 under.
And when it comes to experience, he has a 74-0 advantage in PGA Tour wins against the next seven guys on the leader board.
Woods knows better than to chalk up another win in the Farmers Insurance Open, so when asked about his name atop the leader board after a 7-under 65 on the North Course, he was quick to point out, We have a long way to go.
Even so, this had all the trappings of another Tiger show at Torrey Pines.
Woods didn’t miss a shot during a four-hole stretch around the turn on the North Course that included a 5-iron to 5 feet for eagle and a wedge that one-hopped off the pin to set up birdie. It 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, said Woods, who was at 11-under 133. I’m leading the tournament.
Horschel, who had to go back to Q-school to get his card last year, had a 69 on the South Course to get into the final group.
It’s a good day and I’m excited about tomorrow – I get to play with Tiger, Horschel said. I found out when I tapped in for par. I realized he was leading and I was in second place. So yeah, looking forward to that.
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 leader board at Torrey Pines since 2008. Then again, he has played only one time at this event since then when he was starting to change his swing.
And while this looks ominous for everyone else, Woods with a 36-hole lead – even at Torrey Pines – doesn’t mean this is over. He had a 34-10 record when he has at least a share of the 36-hole lead, though he has failed to win four of the last six times from that spot.
Brad Fritsch, a rookie from Canada, had a 67 on the South Course to lead the group of six players at 8-under 136. The others were Casey Wittenberg, Steve Marino, Jimmy Walker, Josh Teater and Erik Compton, whom Woods referred to as remarkable for being a two-time heart transplant recipient and being on the PGA Tour.
Defending champion Brandt Snedeker didn’t fare so well. After opening with a 65 on the North, he made only one birdie and twice took bogey on the par 5s on his way to a 75 that left him seven shots behind. K.J. Choi, who had a 65 on the South Course, couldn’t break par on the easier North and had a 73 to fall five behind.
EUROPEAN: In Doha, Qatar, England’s Chris Wood shot an 8-under 64 to take a three-stroke lead over New Zealand’s Michael Campbell and two others after the third round of the Qatar Masters.
Wood had a 15-under 201 total. Campbell had a 68 to match England’s Simon Khan (64) and Sweden’s Alexander Noren (66) at 12 under. Spain’s Sergio Garcia (70) and South Africa’s Branden Grace (67) were 11 under.