GORDON SEAY PHOTO
Sam Ryder simply rode the wind.
The 33-year-old Ryder carded a four-under-par 68 on the more difficult South Course at Torrey Pines Golf Club in La Jolla despite gusty conditions, and took a gusty three-stroke lead over playing partner Brendan Steele midway through the 71st edition of the Farmers Insurance Open.
That means Ryder and Steele will play together for the third straight day on Friday, with the last two rounds being played completely on the South Course after the cut was made on Thursday evening.
“I haven’t been in this position a lot, but it feels great and I’m just trying to embrace it,” said Ryder, who is winless on the PGA Tour but captured the 2017 Pinnacle Bank Championship on the Korn Ferry Tour and the 2015 National Capital Open to Support Our Troops on the PGA Tour Canada. “I’m just trying to enjoy the moment.
“I’ve been playing pretty solid golf this week and didn’t miss too many shots today. I’m hitting the ball well off the tee, driving it in the fairway for the most part, my irons feel very good and I’m trusting my stroke on the greens to make some birdies. I also had some good bunker saves to keep the ball rolling.
“I just want to keep playing well the next two days.”
Added Steele, who won the Safeway Open at Silverado Resort in Napa in 2017 and 2018 to give him three PGA Tour victories: “We just played off each other for the second day in a row. It’s just been a lot of fun and I guess this means we are going to play with each other again tomorrow.”
Ryder recorded the low score of the day on the South Course, making two early birdies around his only bogey at No. 4 before adding three birdies on the first four holes of the back nine en route to a 36-hole score of 12-under 132.
Steele, from Idyllwild in the Southern California mountains and UC Riverside, rallied with a 35-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole and an 11-footer for another of his five birdies on the last hole against three bogeys in a 70.
Rookie Tano Goya of Argentina collected three birdies on each nine of the North Course in a 67 and is five shots behind in solo third, while Max Homa of Valencia and Cal made four straight birdies on the front nine of his 70 on the South and is one more down in a tie for fourth with Sahith Theegala of Chino Hills and Pepperdine, who eagled No. 6 in a 72 on the South; Taylor Montgomery, who had three birdies in a 71 on the North; first-round co-leader Brent Grant, who struggled to a 74 on the South; Vincent Norrman of Sweden, who made four birdies on the back nine in a 71 on the North, and Sam Stevens, who salvaged a 72 on the North with a birdie on his last hole.
Eighth-ranked Collin Morikawa birdied the last hole on the South for a 72 and is seven strokes back in a tie for 10th with two-time Farmers champion Jason Day of Australia, who had three birdies on the back nine in a 71 on the South; Ben Griffin, whose two late birdies gave him a 72 on the North, and Andrew Novak, who made four birdies and five bogeys in a 73 on the North.
Third-ranked Jon Rahm, who has won four of his last six tournaments, was in danger of missing the cut before holing out for an eagle on No. 5 and making birdies on the his next three holes to shoot 67 on the North and is tied for 14th.
Ninth-ranked Justin Thomas made three bogeys and a double bogey on his back nine before a closing bogey left him with a 74 on the North and is tied for 24th, sixth-ranked Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State is tied for 36th after making a birdie on the last hole for a 71 on the South, while seventh-seeded Will Zalatoris stumbled to a 77 on the South with only two birdies and missed the cut by one stroke.
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