Playing in wet conditions on Friday, and buoyed by six birdies and an eagle on the 18th hole, Tiger Woods leapfrogged defending champion Brandt Snedeker and K.J. Choi en route to a -7 under par 65, to take the lead after two rounds of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.
Woods finished ahead of Billy Horschel, who is at -9. There is a group of six other golfers who sit at -8. Nick Watney leads a group of six other golfers at -7.
Playing the easier North Course on Friday, Woods struck the ball beautifully all day, and was able to take advantage on the slowed-down greens. His round was solidified during a four-hole stretch (17, 18, 1, 2 – He began the day on No. 10) where he shot -5.
"I hit good shots all the way," he said. "I hit a driver and a 5-iron to what, 18? I hit a driver and 8-iron to 1, and a driver and flip sand wedge to 2. So I didn't really miss a shot through that stretch."
A six-time champion of the event, Woods is playing professionally at Torrey Pines for the first time since 2011. His obvious familiarity with the municipal course in La Jolla was a factor in his low round on Friday.
"Well there are certain golf courses where Ive had some success on," Woods said. "Firestone, Augusta, Doral, Bay Hill. There are a few over the course of my career that I've really played well. This happens to be one of them, and we happen to have a major on it, and I've won it."
He didn't seem to have any problems in the wet conditions.
"I don't like rain gear very much," he said. "I'd much rather play in sweaters if I can. Hey, you can only get wet once, right? Once you're wet, you're wet. Deal with it."
Horschel, a pro since 2009, said he is excited about playing with Woods on Saturday, and understands that a larger gallery comes with the territory.
"I know there are going to be crowds. It's nothing that I haven't dealt with before," Horschel said. "I've played the Walker Cup in 2007 over in Northern Ireland at Royal County Down and there was a guy I competed against three times called Rory McIlroy. So there may have been 10, 12,000 people following us, and only a couple thousand following the rest of the group. So I've dealt with crowds."
Rancho Santa Fe resident Phil Mickelson, who shot an even par 72 on Thursday on the North Course, had a better day Friday, firing a -1 under 71, which included 5 birdies. His round could have been even better had he not finished with back-to-back bogeys on holes 17 and 18 of the South Course.
He slipped in just above the cut line, which was -1.
"Obviously, the cut was the last thing on my mind," Mickelson said. "I was trying to make one or two birdies to get within striking distance if I shot a low round tomorrow. So making bogey the last two holes kind of hurt and brought me back to where the cut line is a factor."
Woods shared the low round of the day (-7) with his playing partner Rickie Fowler, who sits at -2 for the tournament.
A local favorite from Murietta, Fowler's contingent of Orange-clad supporters will certainly be out in full force on the weekend. Erik Compton (-8) also shot a 65 Friday.
Snedeker, who won a playoff with Kyle Stanley to win his first Farmers Insurance Open last year, sits seven shots back at -4 after carding a 75.
San Diego native Charley Hoffman finished at -2 and Escondido native John Mallinger (-3) both made the cut. San Diego State University alum Scott Piercey finished at +3 and missed the cut.