Recap of the day
With two courses – Torrey Pines GC (South) and Torrey Pines GC (North) – in use and players going out in three-balls, tee-times were cramped into 9am-11am slots on both tracks.
Playing in the fourth group out from 10th tee at the easier North, Jon Rahm cashed in on the super-calm conditions with a brilliant outward 29 featuring two eagles. He stalled a little after the turn but connected four more birdies coming home to post the lead with a 10-under 62.
With hardly a wave to be seen in the ocean below, plenty of others went low too. Justin Rose blasted a 63 on the North, as did Doug Ghim, while C.T. Pan handed in a 64.
One UK bookie opened up Monday with Jordan Spieth at 40/1 in the betting. That was snapped up and Spieth rewarded his backers with a 7-under 65.
Over on the South, Charles Howell III was one of three players to shoot -6-under 66s.
R2 leaderboard: -10 Jon Rahm (NC), -9 Justin Rose (NC), Doug Ghim (NC), -8 C.T. Pan (NC), -7 Jordan Spieth (NC), -6 Brandon Hagy (SC), Bud Cauley (NC), Chris Stroud (SC), Charles Howell III (SC), Richy Werenski (NC), Billy Horschel (NC), John Chin (NC), Joaquin Niemann (NC), Hideki Matsuyama (NC).
Selected others: -5 Jason Day (NC), -4 Marc Leishman (NC), -3 Tony Finau (SC), -2 Tiger Woods (SC), -1 Rory McIlroy (SC), +1 Rickie Fowler (SC).
Revised outright betting: 5/2 Rahm, 9/2 Rose, 12/1 Howell III, 14/1 Spieth, 25/1 Day, Finau, 28/1 Woods.
Friday weather forecast
‘Partly sunny and beautiful’ says one forecast. Temperatures are in the high 60s from 11am onwards and stay there throughout the day. The ENE winds are modest at around 5-8mph so scoring should be low again.
Leaders after 18 holes
Jon Rahm (62, North) – The 2017 winner here hit just half the fairways on the North but, despite the thick rough, pelted 15 greens and poured in the putts from everywhere. It’s a special place for the Spaniard. Not only did he make this the scene of his first PGA TOUR win, Rahm recently got engaged to girlfriend Kelly at Torrey Pines.
Justin Rose (63, North) – Traded eagles with playing partner Rahm at his first hole of the day (10th) and threw in another seven birdies in a bogey-free lap which was his lowest by two in 10 starts at this event. That new Honma equipment is bedding in nicely.
Dough Ghim (63, North) – The former World Amateur No. 1 cashed in early on his sponsor’s invite with an eagle and nine birdies against two bogeys for his lowest lap on the PGA TOUR. Not bad for his first start here. Can he keep it going on the harder South?
C.T. Pan (64, North) – The man from Chinese Taipei was runner-up here two years ago so don’t be surprised by today’s 64 which featured ten birdies against two bogeys. It matches his career-low round and is the eighth time in nine laps at this event that he’s shot 70 or lower.
Fate of the favorites
Jon Rahm (62) – (see above)
Justin Rose (63) – (see above)
Rory McIlroy (71, South) – One of those days for Rory. It’s his first start in the event so perhaps we can forgive him for failing to read the poa annua greens. However, just one bogey allowed him to shoot under-par at the South and that’s okay.
Tiger Woods (70, South) – With eight wins here (seven in this event and the 2008 U.S. Open on one leg), we expect magic from Tiger at Torrey. A 70 on the South was solid and he methodically birdied all four par 5s to lay the foundations but Woods, like McIlroy, will need a low one at the North to close that gap on Rahm and Rose.
Jon Rahm (62, North): “It’s actually the first time I played the North Course first. You know you’ve got to shoot under par to keep up with the average, that was the mentality. Started with an eagle, made a chip-in a couple of holes later. There was no reason to slow down and I just kept the pedal going.”
Justin Rose (63, North): “Really happy with that. Got out there today, felt really comfortable, eagled my first hole of the day and didn’t look back. Played lovely golf all day. Drove it long and straight for the most part, gave myself plenty of opportunities so there was a lot of good that happened. To shoot 9-under and take advantage was really important today.”
Russell Knox (67, North): “The rough is brutal, the worst I’ve ever seen it here with, I guess, the rain leading up to the event. But when I drove it in the fairway I was able to attack and the putter came alive so all in all very happy.”
Road to victory at Torrey Pines
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
2014 Scott Stallings – R1: 63rd, R2: 11th, R3: 6th
Notes: All those five winners started at the tougher South, explaining how far down the field they were after 18 holes. In terms of shots back, each of those winners were between seven and nine off the lead while none broke par (three 73s and two 72s) so a modest day at the South has been just fine when it comes to taking the title here. With Rahm at 10-under, that trend is under threat this year though.
Fate of the 18-hole leaders at Torrey Pines – where did they finish?
2018 Tony Finau – 6th
2017 Justin Rose – 4th
2016 Scott Brown – 49th, Andrew Loupe – 49th
2015 Nicholas Thompson – 53rd
2014 Stewart Cink – 28th
Notes: Good starts at the North can be parlayed into good finishes and that’s even more likely since it was toughened up (see below). Finau and Rose opened with 65s and then kept it going with three solid days at the South to finish T6 and T4 respectively.
Focus on – Torrey Pines North v South
The North/South bias used to be marked with over three shots difference the norm. That changed after the Tom Weiskopf redesign in 2017 when he added over 200 yards to extend it to 7,258 and for the last two years the gap has been under a shot-and-a-half.
North v South
2018: 71.41 v 72.81 – South 1.40 shots harder
2017: 71.28 v 72.77 – South 1.49 shots harder
2016: 70.93 v 74.50 – South 3.57 shots harder
2015: 70.23 v 73.52 – South 3.29 shots harder
Today, that gap was something inbetween. The biggest we’ve seen since the North was revamped but still lower than the past.
2019 R1: 69.40 v 71.63 – South 2.23 shots harder
Focus on – Jon Rahm
Jon Rahm’s victory here in 2017 – at the now unthinkable odds of 50/1 – was achieved with 13-under-par. Teeing off at the 72nd hole, he was 11-under. However, when looking at his list of wins it’s very much the odd one out in terms of scoring.
2017 -13 Farmers Insurance Open
2017 -24 Irish Open
2017 -19 DP World Tour Championship
2018 -22 CareerBuilder Challenge
2018 -20 Open de Espana
2018 -20 Hero World Challenge
The Spaniard’s other five wins were achieved with scores of 19-under to 24-under. In other words, he loves to feast on a course which is there for the taking. That was certainly the case today at the North Course as he roared to the turn in 29 and eventually signed for a 62. The one other occasion he opened with that number? Last year’s CareerBuilder, also in California, which he won with -22. Three rounds of 69 at the South and Rahm will be into his victory sweet spot.