5 things: Farmers Insurance Open (Round 2)
Friday, January 28, 2011
SAN DIEGO – Five things to watch for in today's second round at the Farmers Insurance Open:
1. After today's round, we'll see who's really on his game. Most of Thursday's leaders played the North Course, which played 1.8 strokes easier than the South. Only three of the top 14 on the leaderboard played the South in the first round: John Daly (67), Fabian Gomez (67) and Phil Mickelson (67).
Farmers Insurance Open: Round 1
Rickie Fowler trails by one shot after the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open.
2. Sunghoon Kang, 24, is your first-round leader after shooting 64 on the North Course on Thursday. Kang was one of two Koreans (along with Bio Kim) to advance through last December's Q-School. Kang is just 5 feet, 8 inches and 170 pounds, but averaged 320 yards per tee shot Thursday. He picked up 50 yards since he recently began working with Don Brown, a Los Angeles-based instructor who teaches many Korean professionals, including Kevin Na and Jenny Shin.
3. Mickelson's 67 on the South is his best score there since he shot 67 in the final round in 2004. Mickelson hasn't been shy about voicing his displeasure with the remodeled South Course.
"Over the years, I've been able to spend some time around this golf course and learn some of the breaks and so forth," Mickelson said. "But when Rees Jones comes in, he has every break go away from the bunker. It's just a trait he puts into all his golf courses. So as soon as I started to pick up on that and see how every putt breaks away from the bunkers here, I started to read the greens much better and putt them better."
Mickelson, who's making his 21st consecutive appearance here, has finished in the top-5 seven times, including victories in 1993, 2000 and 2001.
4. Tiger Woods opened with a 69 on the North Course despite hitting just five fairways. He'll have to hit more when he tackles the longer South Course today. Woods actually performed better with the driver than the numbers indicate. The North Course's fairways are very narrow. And Woods was aggressive off the tee Thursday, hitting driver on several short par-4s, a tactic that didn't help his driving stats, but showed confidence with the big stick.
"These are some of the hardest fairways to hit on Tour," Woods said. "One, they're angled because they're banked, and they're the narrowest we've seen, and the rough is 4 or 5 inches, so it's tough.
5. Jhonattan Vegas' Bob Hope victory makes him the early Rookie of the Year favorite. He hasn't been the most consistent first-year player, though. That honor goes to Chris Kirk, runner-up on last year's Nationwide Tour money list.
Kirk started the season with a T-30 at Sony and T-7 at the Hope. He shot 66 Thursday on the North Course. Kirk got a cortisone shot Tuesday for a neuroma in his right foot. His round included a 50-yard hole-out for eagle on No. 2.
Kirk played half the North Course blind. He played just nine holes in his practice round because of the foot pain. Kirk finished T-78 at the 2008 U.S. Open.