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Palmer pines for play-off redemption

Matt Cooper

Recap of the day

Beau Hossler was the first to make a move, thrashing a 66 on the North Course, a lap soon equalled by Zac Blair as the pair reached halfway T7 on 6-under 138. They were joined by Keegan Bradley (72) and Patrick Reed (69) who played the South Course. J.B. Holmes (NC 69), Jhonattan Vegas (SC 68), Sebastian Capellan (71 NC) and Matthew NeSmith (70 SC) bettered those totals by the one blow for T3. Meanwhile, two-time tournament winner Brandt Snedeker played the South Course in wonderful style, caressing a 67 to total 8-under 136. They are all chasing Ryan Palmer however. The Texan carded 11 birdies before making a mess of his final hole with a 60 in the crosshairs. Nonetheless, his North Course 62 left him two shots clear on 10-under 134.

Leaderboard: -10 Ryan Palmer, -8 Brandt Snedeker, -7 J.B. Holmes, Jhonattan Vegas, Sebastian Capellan, Matthew NeSmith

Notables: -6 Keegan Bradley, Patrick Reed, -5 Jon Rahm, -4 Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods,

Low round of the day: Palmer’s 62

Cut: -1 143

MCs: E Xander Schauffele, Rickie Fowler, +1 Justin Rose, Gary Woodland, +2 Francesco Molinari,

Revised outright betting

Palmer 9/2, Rahm 5/1, Snedeker 7/1, McIlroy 15/2, Woods 14/1, Morikawa 25/1, Reed 25/1

 

Saturday weather forecast

Mostly sunny (just the 10% chance of rain), temperatures in the low 60s (but humidity in the 70s) and a mere breeze of about 7 mph.

 

Leaders at 36 holes

Ryan Palmer (62) – He swapped three birdies and three bogeys in R1 on the tougher South Course, but there was nothing balanced about R2. He landed 14-of-18 greens in regulation, saved par 3-for-4 and needed just 1.357 putts per GIR as he ticked 11 birdies. He made no top 30 in his first four course visits, but has been second (losing in a play-off) and T13 since.

Brandt Snedeker (67) – He circled two hat-tricks of par breakers, one on each nine, added another birdie on the front nine, but made two errors coming home. He’ll spend the weekend looking for a ninth course top ten and a third victory in the tournament.

 

Fate of the favorites

Rory McIlroy started the day on 5-under, got it to 7-under through the turn on the South Course – and then imploded with three bogeys. At the last he went sand-rough-sand-rough on his way to the last of those clumsy dropped shots. Jon Rahm bettered that total after a wild front nine on the same track was followed by eight pars and a bogey on the way home. Tiger Woods four-putted the first green and spent the rest of his lap on the South Course playing catch up. He managed a 71, but is only 4-under for the week. Justin Rose got himself to the turn on the North Course in 3-under-par, even for the week, but then landed three bogeys on the bounce. He’ll spend the week off the course.

 

Quotes

Ryan Palmer (62) – “One of those days. Very exciting, but a long way to go. Fortunately there are not many leaderboards out there. Just a matter of hitting the shots and chatting away. I did that very well today. Losing a play-off here in ‘18, close in Sony, I love where my game is at.”

Brandt Snedeker (67) – “Got off to a great start and didn’t play too defensive all day. Had a great pace on the greens. I knew I won’t be doing this again over the weekend so tried to go low. I had a great practice session and done a great job through two days. I feel comfortable here and I love the bumpy Poa.”

 

Road to victory at Torrey Pines

2019 – Justin Rose R1: 2nd, R2: 1st, R3: 1st

2018 – Jason Day R1: 113th, R2: 6th, R3: 5th

2017 – Jon Rahm R1: 77th, R2: 21st, R3: 13th

2016 – Brandt Snedeker R1: 90th, R2: 57th, R3: 27th

2015 – Jason Day R1: 95th, R2: 6th, R3: 8th

Notes: From 2011 to 2018, every champion had started on the harder South Course. By the end of 36 holes the situation has normally righted itself somewhat, but there have still been some remarkable weekend fightbacks, not least Rahm and Snedeker (see above). In all, of the last 24 tournament winners, nine were outside the top ten at halfway, six outside the top 20 and four outside the top 30. José Maria Olazábal in 2002 rose furthest on the leaderboard over Saturday and Sunday, having started the T69 and winning by one.

 

Fate of the halfway leaders at Torrey Pines – where did they finish?

2019 Justin Rose 1st

2018 Ryan Palmer 2nd

2017 Justin Rose 4th

2016 KJ Choi 2nd, Gary Woodland 18th

2015 Harris English 2nd

Notes: In the 21st century there have been 27 players holding or sharing the halfway leader in this event and just the five of them have claimed the win. It’s happened just twice in the last 11 years.

 

Focus on – Xander Schauffele

A fifth tournament start for the Californian and a fourth missed cut. Last year he was T25 and it was not just his weekend laps that made the effort a standout. His first round 12 months ago was a 69 and as such his only sub-70 effort in what is now 12 event laps.

 

Focus on – Rickie Fowler

Unlike Schauffele, fellow Californian Fowler enjoyed his early visits to Torrey Pines, collecting four top 20s in his first five appearances. But his missed cut this week was his fifth in his last seven starts and in that period he has never once finished in the top 60.

 

Focus on – the European Tour’s Dubai Desert Classic

The fairways remained narrower than usual, and the rough thicker, but the lack of a fiendish wind made scoring easier than on day one. Not that 18-hole pace-setter Thomas Pieters noticed – he needed ten blows more than on Thursday (77) and dropped to T32. Englishman Eddie Pepperell continued to break his early 2020 form funk, adding a 67 to his opening 69 to grab the lead on 8-under 136. He is chased into the weekend by the defending champion Bryson DeChambeau, veteran Robert Karlsson and Dean Burmester, who revealed he and his family had escaped unharmed, bar a few bruises, from a crash in a Uber ride on Wednesday. He credits his free-running mental attitude with gratitude and the knowledge of what really matters in life. Tommy Fleetwood thrashed a 65 to hit T11, four shots back of his old England team-mate Pepperell and the books remain wary after his low-scoring weekend antics of recent months.

R2 leaderboard: -8 Eddie Pepperell, -7 Dean Burmester, Bryson DeChambeau, Robert Karlsson, -6 Ashun Wu, Romain Langasque, -5 Kurt Kitayama, Sebastian Heisele, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Victor Perez

Notables: -5 Tommy Fleetwood, -3 Shane Lowry, -2 Henrik Stenson, -1 Sergio Garcia, E Thomas Pieters, +2 Danny Willett, Lee Westwood

MC (cut +2): +4 Bernd Wiesberger, +5 Rafa Cabrera Bello, +9 Matt Wallace, +10 HaoTong Li

Revised betting: DeChambeau 7/2, Pepperell 6/1, Fleetwood 6/1, Perez 10/1, Langasque 14/1, Burmester 16/1