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Tiger Woods takes the lead at Torrey Pines

Woods shoots a 65 on the North Course for a two-shot edge over Billy Horschel at the halfway point. Phil Mickelson just makes the cut.

January 25, 2013|Chris Dufresne
  • Tiger Woods hits out of a bunker on the sixth hole during the second round of the Farmers Insurance Open.
Tiger Woods hits out of a bunker on the sixth hole during the second round… (Gregory Bull / Associated…)

LA JOLLA — Sun-dripped Torrey Pines disappeared Friday as umbrellas outsold sunscreen, sand traps turned to koi ponds and temporary rivers replaced par-five fairways.

Locals in shorts and sandals ran around asking, "Dude, what is this wet stuff?"

San Diego officials immediately sanctioned the precipitation for violating several city sunny-day ordinances and warned the fines would be doubled on the weekend.

The second day of the Farmers "Flood" Insurance Open left everyone soaked except Tiger Woods, who didn't even bother wearing weather gear as he shifted golf-game gears from third to overdrive.

Woods dodged most of the droplets as he dominated the North Course with a seven-under-par 65 on his way to the top of the leaderboard.

Woods, who started the day three shots off the lead, hit 12 of 14 fairways and 13 greens. He avenged his only Friday bogey at his second-to-last hole with a birdie on the last to get to 11-under 133.

Woods owns a two-shot lead over upstart Billy Horschel, who shot three-under 69 on the South Course to leave him at nine-under 135.

Horschel, a 2009 University of Florida graduate, earned his first pairing with Woods, which knocks one item off his bucket list.

"It's going to be a good day no matter what," Horschel said.

Horschel thinks he'll be ready for the hoopla, having played 2007 Walker Cup matches in Northern Ireland against Rory Mcllroy.

"So I've dealt with crowds," Horschel said.

Horschel regained his card in 2013 after tying for fourth at the PGA Tour qualifying tournament. He missed the cut in his two previous trips to Torrey Pines.

Horschel is such a people person he says has to consciously pull himself away from conversations.

"I can talk your ear off for days and days," he said.

Someone, between now and Saturday's 9:40 a.m. tee time, will need to tell Horschel how little Woods likes to chitchat when he's in contention.

As Horschel conducted his post-round news conference, texts from family and friends were ringing a hole in his pocket.

Joining the final group is Casey Wittenberg, one of six players at eight-under 136 who sit three shots behind Woods.

First-day co-leader K.J. Choi stumbled to one-over 73 and is five shots behind Woods, while defending champion Brandt Snedeker followed his 65 with a three-over 75 on the South Course. Snedeker stands at 140, seven shots off the lead.

The weekend star, come rain or shine, will be Woods.

As caddies covered players with oversized umbrellas and handed out rain gloves like sticks of gum, Woods pretended it was 75 without a cloud in the sky.

"I don't like rain gear very much, and I'd much rather play in sweaters, if I can." Woods said. "Hey, you can only get wet once, right? Once you're wet, you're wet. Deal with it."

The soggy field now has to deal with Woods, who enters the weekend within striking distance of his eighth professional win at Torrey Pines. Woods has won this PGA event six times and also captured the 2008 U.S. Open held on these seaside grounds.

Woods owns the course record on the South Course, 62, and his 68.62 scoring average here is the lowest on tour since 1980.

He seems to have a decided home-field advantage at Torrey Pines, almost like the football Broncos in mile-high Denver.

There are certain places that fit Woods like an old pair of Nike sneakers.

"There are a few courses over the course of my career that I've really played well," Woods said. "This happens to be one of them."

He clicked off some of the others: Firestone, Augusta, Doral and Bay Hill.

Not all courses appeal to the eye of Woods, who has never won professionally at Riviera Country Club, one of the most respected courses on the tour.

Woods hasn't even played the Northern Trust Open since 2006 and hasn't committed for this year's event.

Woods seemed born, though, to play Torrey Pines. He plays better here than hometown product Phil Mickelson, who has won three professional times here but not since 2001.

Mickelson, with a later tee time, got the worst of Friday's weather. He trudged off the course looking as if he'd just walked through a carwash.

Mickelson followed his first-day 72 on the North Course with a one-under 70 on the South that left him dangling on a cut line that he ended up making on the number.

Mickelson wore gloves on both hands at one point to combat the rain but never seemed to have a grip.

His day ended bogey-bogey after he couldn't get up and down from the back bunker on No. 18.

"It's just a fraction off," Mickelson said of his game. "I just don't quite feel great."

Former major champions who missed the cut include Keegan Bradley, Ben Curtis, John Daly, Angel Cabrera and Stewart Cink.

Kyle Stanley, who blew a three-shot lead in the final round last year before losing a playoff to Snedeker, missed the cut after finishing at seven-over 151.

Mike Weir's weekend drought, though, is mercifully over. The veteran Canadian shot three-over 75 on Friday but made his first cut since the 2011 AT&T National. Weir is at three-under 141, eight shots behind Woods.

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