Rory McIlroy is only four shots off the lead heading to the final two rounds of the Farmers Insurance Open but yet again it was a second round spoiled by an unfriendly putter on the North Course at Torrey Pines.
It was also a day that both McIlroy and fellow four-time Major winning Brooks Koepka clearly had no social distancing issues given plenty of errant driving. The pair were reduced to a two-ball when Matthew Wolff withdrew due to a hand injury post his first round with McIlroy and Koepka for the most part meeting-up on the tees and greens.
McIlroy made the turn with four birdies and just as many bogeys ahead of eight straight pars before a closing birdie in a score of one-under 71 to move to five-under on what would be the ‘easier’ North Course.
Norwegian sensation Viktor Hovland snatched eight birdies and dropped just one shot in a round of 65 to muscle his way to a one-shot lead at the halfway stage of the event. It is the second occasion in his career the 23-year-old holds a 36-hole lead after two rounds and the last was in winning the 2020 Puerto Rico Open, his maiden PGA Tour title.
Victory this week along the Pacific Ocean shoreline would see him capture a third PGA Tour success in just a 37th start. And Hovland admitted after his round that he felt right at home in the very cool conditions, with hail falling on some parts of the two courses early afternoon.
“My game felt really solid,” he said. “The last couple weeks I’ve been in Oklahoma and it’s been really cold, so I’ve had probably three, four layers on practicing and I think that’s helped me for this week. It got really cold and obviously raining and hail, so being Norwegian, I think that also helps. Yeah, just played really solid and made some putts.”
Six players share second place at eight-under par – Spaniard and 2017 champion, Jon Rahm (67), Aussie Adam Scott (69), Tony Finau (67), Lanto Griffin (70), Ryan Palmer (70) and Patrick Reed (72).
Again, it was yet another frustrating day with the putter for McIlroy missing putts and not hitting the hole, leaving many short and then breaking out laughing in lipping-out for a second straight hole at his 17th. McIlroy, starting from the 10th hole of the North Course, got off to a decent start with birdies at his opening hole and then at the 12th or the third hole of his round.
The 31-year old pulled off a brilliant shot way left at the par-4 14th hole where he looked for all the world to be blocked from attacking the green by a collection of towering eucalyptus trees and distant Torrey pines. McIlroy amazed those commentating on the shot to find the green but undid his touch of brilliance with a horrible three-putt bogey.
The pain continued right to the final hole with McIlroy leaving an eagle ‘3’ putt short by inches and then no real cause for any birdie smile as both he and Koepka, who added a 72 to his opening 76 to miss the cut with a four-over total, headed to the warmth of the clubhouse. McIlroy heads into day three sharing 14th place while fellow Irishman Seamus Power missed the cut with scores of 78 and 75.
And sitting out the weekend rounds for a third time in as many events was Koepka with scores of 72 and 76. It is a first occasion in 144 PGA Tour starts that Koepka has missed three consecutive cuts (2020 Mayakoba Golf Classic, 2021 The American Express and 2021 Farmers Insurance Open).
SECOND ROUND NOTES
Weather: After an estimated 0.90 inches of rain fell Thursday night, it was sunny early with rain and hail later in the day. High of 59. Wind WSW 12-18 mph, gusting to 25 mph. Preferred lies were in use during the second round. Due to the inclement weather, play was suspended at 3:23 p.m. PT and resumed at 4:12 p.m., a delay of 49 minutes.
- Norway’s Viktor Hovland in position to win for the second time in last three PGA TOUR starts
- Victory by Hovland would mark the fifth consecutive international winner at Farmers Insurance Open
- Hovland seeks to become third consecutive player to win this event after starting on the North Course
- Top seven players on the leaderboard are all PGA TOUR winners
- Phil Mickelson makes the cut on the number with birdie-birdie finish on South Course
- Brooks Koepka misses the cut in three consecutive starts for first time in his PGA TOUR career
- Four of eight past Farmers Insurance Open in the field advanced to the weekend