Ailing Horschel Shoots 63, Leads Thompson by One Stroke in Farmers

Billy Horschel hasn’t finished in the top 20 in his first three starts this season but has a good chance to do so this week if he can stay healthy. 

The 35-year-old Horschel carded a bogey-free, 9-under-par 63 on the North Course at Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla to take a one-stroke lead over Michael Thompson in the 70th edition of what is now the Farmers Insurance Open. 

Each golfer in the field will play the North and more difficult South Course in the first two rounds, and after the 36-hole cut is made the last two rounds of what started out as the San Diego Open in will be played will be played completely on the South Couse. 

“I’m very happy because I woke up with a tight neck and wasn’t even sure I could play,” said Horschel, who claimed the last of his six PGA Tour titles in the 2021 Dell Technologies Match Play. “When you have a tight neck, it’s hard to make a good swing and even practice. I had no expectations because I didn’t know if I could play two holes or 18. 

“I just took it one stroke at a time and somehow was able to play really well. When you don’t know how long you can play, that’s all you concentrate on. My neck loosened up and I had done some good work in practice at home in the last week that paid off. 

“I just hope I can keep making good swing and having easy putts.”   

Horschel, who also won the 2021 BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, England, on what is now the DP World Tour, started on the back nine and made four birdies on the first eight holes, before rattling off five more birdies coming home on the front. 

Thompson birdied four of the first five holes and then Nos. 17 and 18 to cap a bogey-free 64, while Stephan Jaeger of Germany birdied three of last five holes for 65 and is tied for third with Kevin Tway, whose father Bob Tway won this event in 1986. Tway made a bogey on the first hole before racking up eight birdies, and all three played the North Course. 

“(The North is) shorter, I think the rough is a little bit lighter on the North, and you just know you’re going to have to take advantage because the South course can beat you up,” said Thompson, whose two PGA Tour victories came in the 2020 3M Open and 2013 Honda Classic. 

“I was really quite surprised with how I played today because my practice leading up into today wasn’t that great. … Something clicked and I made a bunch of putts, and I was hitting my lines, so nothing to complain about.” 

Top-ranked Jon Rahm of Spain, who captured the 2021 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines and won the Farmers in 2017, sank a 12-foot eagle putt on the last hole to shoot 66 on the South Course and is tied for fifth with Rickie Fowler, who had three birdies on each nine in a bogey-free 66 on the North, Francesco Molinari of Italy, who birdied four of his last six holes for another bogey-free 66 on the North, and Doug Ghim, who had one more bogey-free 66 on the North. 

Luke List birdied the last four holes to card a 66 on the South and is in a gigantic tie for ninth that includes Peter Malnati, who played bogey-free, and Cameron Tringale of Mission Viejo, those two also playing the South. 

Shooting 67 on the North Course were Aaron Wise of Lake Elsinore, Robert Streb, Dylan Frittelli of South Africa, C.T. Pan of Taiwan, Sam Burns, Martin Laird of Scotland, Daniel Berger, Bill Haas, Sahith Theegala of Chino Hills and Pepperdine, Nick Hardy, Michael Gligic of Canada, Cameron Young, Maverick McNealy of Portola Valley and Stanford, Justin Rose of England, Ryan Palmer, Tony Finau, Aaron Rai of England, Taylor Pendrith of Canada and Austin Smotherman. 

Third-ranked Dustin Johnson and sixth-ranked Justin Thomas both shot 68 on the South and are in a tie for 31st that includes Xander Schauffele, the Olympic Gold Medalist from La Jolla and San Diego State, whose 68 came on the North. 

Will Zalatoris, the 2021 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, is tied for 38th after a 68 on the South, ninth-ranked Bryson DeChambeau of Clovis totaled 70 on the North and is tied for 53rd, and defending champion Si Woo Kim of South Korea is tied for 76th after a 71 on the South. 

For complete results, visit https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard.html  

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