Leader Stanley ties Tiger's 54-hole Torrey record
SAN DIEGO – Kyle Stanley overpowered Torrey Pines and opened a five-shot lead Saturday in the Farmers Insurance Open.
About the only regret for Stanley was missing a 4-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole that would have broken the 54-hole tournament record set by Tiger Woods in 1998, before Rees Jones beefed up the South Course for the 2008 U.S. Open.
Stanley still managed a 4-under 68, a spot alongside Woods in the record book at 18-under 198 and great position for his first victory.
The performance looked familiar, even if the name didn’t.
Woods, playing this week in Abu Dhabi, is a seven-time winner at Torrey Pines as a pro, including that U.S. Open. He used his length on the South Course, especially on the par 5s, and holed his share of putts.
That’s been the recipe for Stanley, who has a slight build and enormous speed. He build a three-shot lead with a birdie on the second hole and was never really challenged on another glorious days along the Pacific bluffs.
His lone bogey came on the 12th, when he went just over the green, chipped to 6 feet and missed the putt. On the 526-yard 13th hole, he blasted a tee shot so far down the hill that Stanley had only a soft 7-iron into the green, putting it 15 feet below the hole on the fringe for a two-putt birdie.
“Are you playing this as a par 4?” Sang-Moon Bae turned and said to him with a smile.
John Huh, a 21-year-old rookie who spent three years on the Korean Tour, and John Rollins each had 68 and were at 13-under 203. FedEx Cup champion Bill Haas (70) and Bae (72) were another shot behind. Bae was 5 over through five holes until he ran off four straight birdies to start the back nine to get his name back on the leaderboard.
The question is whether anyone else is in contention.
Stanley is no surprise to those who play with him or watch him hit balls, and he nearly joined the parade of rookie winners last year until Steve Stricker rallied with birdies on the last two holes to beat him in the John Deere Classic.
Stanley had a one-shot lead over Brandt Snedeker going into the third round at Torrey Pines, and before long had a comfortable lead, just as Woods has done on this public course.
From deep rough on the par-5 sixth, Stanley hammered a shot just short of the green and pitched up to 12 feet for birdie. He hit sand wedge to 10 feet on the 10th for another birdie, then established himself on the back nine.
Along with the easy birdie on the 13th, Stanley saved par on the 14th. The day before, his approach jumped out of the rough and over the green for a double bogey. Playing it safe this time, he hit 9-iron that went well short, into the bunker, but blasted out to 8 feet and made a tricky, downhill putt for par.
His final birdie came on a 20-foot putt at the par-3 16th. No one else could make a move.
Snedeker went to tap in a 2-foot par putt on the seventh and was shocked when it made a horseshoe around the cup. He then missed his next five greens in regulation, and when he got home in two on the 13th, he three-putted. Snedeker had a 74 and fell seven behind.
“This is something you dream about as a kid,” Stanley said. “But there’s still one more round.”
Equipped with a big lead, he said he won’t play any more conservatively.
DIVOTS: Jay Don Blake in 1991 was the last player to make Torrey Pines his first PGA Tour victory. ... Ryo Ishikawa had his third consecutive round of 69 and was tied for 11th. ... Jonas Blixt had the low round Saturday at 65. Under a “University of Farmers” campaign, that was worth a $20,000 donation to his alma mater, Florida State. Cameron Tringale (Georgia Tech) had a 66 to finish second, which was worth $10,000.