Viktor Hovland of Norway is in only his second season on the PGA Tour and already is seeking his third victory on the circuit.
The 23-year-old Hovland sank a seven-foot birdie putt on his final hole of the more difficult South Course to cap a 7-under-par 65 in wind, cold, rain and even hail, to take a one-stroke lead over six golfers midway through the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Golf Club in La Jolla.
Hovland came back out after a rain delay of about an hour to grab the lead.
“I was practicing in Oklahoma the last couple weeks and it was cold, so I was wearing three or four layers to stay warm, which helped for this week, and I also think it helps that I’m Norwegian,” said Hovland, who played at Oklahoma State.
“I struggled in my last couple tournaments, but I worked on my game and was able to figure some things out. I drove the ball well, my irons felt really good and I made some putts. Hope to keep it going on the weekend.”
Hovland, who won the Puerto Rico Open and Mayakoba Golf Classic last year and is ranked 14th in the world, started at No. 10 and made five birdies and a bogey on the back nine before adding three birdies coming home to record a 36-hole score of 9-under 135.
Second-ranked Jon Rahm of Spain, who won the Farmers in 2017 and finished second last year, finished a 67 with a birdie on the ninth hole of the North Course and is tied for second with first-round co-leader Patrick Reed (72 on the South Course), Tony Finau (67, North), Adam Scott of Australia (69, South), Ryan Palmer (70, North) and Lanto Griffin (70, South).
“I enjoy coming here because it reminds me of home of home,” said Rahm, who birdied three of his last four holes. “I grew up putting on poa annua greens, and I have seen pictures where you can’t tell whether it’s here or at home.
“It was hard out there, and I was glad to play the South Course yesterday and the North today. I didn’t have my A-game at the start but made some good up-and-downs for par, and was able to get it going on my back nine.
“I just have a lot of confidence when I come here.”
Robby Shelton collected nine birdies and made one bogey on the North Course while shooting a 64 that was low score of the day and is three shots back in a tie for eighth with Will Gordon, who totaled 70 on the South Course, and Peter Malnati, who had a 71 on the North.
Seventh-ranked Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland is tied for 14th after a 71 on the North Course, defending champion Marc Leishman of Australia finished at 70 on the North and is tied for 29th, and sixth-ranked Xander Schauffle of La Jolla and San Diego State sank an eight-foot birdie putt on the last hole of the South Course to shoot 72 and is tied for 40th.
Phil Mickelson, who grew up nearby in San Diego and has won the Farmers three times, sank birdie putts of 13 feet on the 17th hole and 12 feet on the 18th to shoot 72 and make the cut on the number in a tie for 54th.
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