Los Angeles Times
Keeping Farmers lead not a breeze for Ryder
Battling the whipping winds at Torrey Pines, he opens a three-shot lead at halfway point.
LA JOLLA — Golfers like to pull a few blades of grass and toss them into the air to gauge the wind before hitting a shot.
That would explain any grass floating in the Pacific Ocean during Thursday’s second round of the Farmers Insurance Open.
Santa Ana winds that gusted up to 30 mph at Torrey Pines created conditions that ranged from concerning to comical.
“It’s one of those days where the weather has the full control of the ball, you just have to hang on,” Brendan Steele said.
First-round co-leader Sam Ryder seemed oblivious to it all, grabbing the lead with a four-under 68 on the South Course, one day after opening with an eightunder 64 on the North. He is 12 under for the tournament at its halfway point.
“The thing I’ve been kind of telling myself is to just try and embrace it,” said Ryder, holding a 36-hole lead for the first time in 147 starts on the PGA Tour. “It’s not a position that I’ve been in a lot, you know, so just trying to enjoy it.”
A player familiar with the lead, world No. 3 Jon Rahm, was on the verge of missing the cut before shooting five under on his final five holes on the North to end with a 67.
Rahm is eight shots off the lead but still has a chance to win his third straight start.
Ryder is three shots up on Steele, his playing partner, who will remain paired with Ryder for the third round after shooting 70.
They will be joined by Argentina’s Tano Goya. He is in third place, five shots behind Ryder, after shooting 67 on the North Course. Goya shared the low round of the day with Rahm.
“I’ve been playing Europe for 11 years,” said Goya, who is making his Farmers debut. “I think that helped me a lot. It’s a lot of rounds where you play with a lot of wind, especially when you play in the islands.”
Players saw the wind in all its bluster playfully redirect their tee shots.
While calculating their approach to the green, they watched the wind whip flagsticks one way one moment and the opposite direction the next. And they arrived to greens cluttered with debris, mainly leaves, which required clearing before lining up putts.
At one point, Tony Finau’s caddie chased down a stray tree branch off the North’s 17th green as Finau lined up his putt.
Then there was Peter Malnati, whose chip shot on the South’s par-three 11th was interrupted when half a dozen trash cans came rolling down the hill.
Malnati stabbed one of the trash cans with his wedge to stop it. Then, with his white bucket hat flapping in the wind, he chipped his next shot close enough to the hole to get his par.
“We knew today was going to be like a put your helmet on and kind of get ready for a battle,” said Ryder, who saved a couple of pars on his first two holes and overcame one bogey with five birdies.
The top three on the leaderboard were followed by a logjam in fourth place, where six players were tied at six under.
Two-time Farmers champion Jason Day was among them before a finalhole bogey on the South Course dropped him to five under for the tournament with a 71.
Seventy-three players made the cut at even par.