Justin Rose was looking forward to his first big test of the year Friday on the South Course at Torrey Pines in San Diego. He made it look like a breeze.
The No. 1 player in the world putted for birdie on all but two holes on his way to a 6-under-par 66, giving him a share of the 36-hole tournament record and a three-shot lead over Hideki Matsuyama going into the weekend at the PGA Tour’s Farmers Insurance Open.
Rose made his only bogey of the week by coming up short of the green on the seventh hole and missing a 12-foot putt. He also had to chop out of heavy grass on the toughest hole at Torrey, the 514-yard 12th hole, and hit a 45-yard pitch to 2 feet to save par.
Throw in seven birdies and he was at 15-under 129, a tournament record last matched by Tom Lehman in 2005.
Only four other players were within five shots, none of them named Tiger Woods.
In his 2019 debut, on a course where he has won eight times,Woods again failed to convert on the greens and made double bogey from the fairway at the turn. He shot another 70 on the North, which was about two shots easier than the South, and was 11 shots behind.
Billy Horschel was in range until missing a 30-inch par putt on the 15th hole and making another bogey from a bunker on the par-3 16th. He was at 10-under 134, along with Jon Rahm (72) and Ryan Palmer, who had his second straight 67.
European Tour: Twenty-five years after winning for the first time at the Dubai Desert Classic, Ernie Els is making another run at the title. The Big Easy, however, needs to overtake a player about half his age to reach the winner’s circle.
Els, 49, made seven birdies and an eagle in a 7-under 65 to move to one stroke off the lead.
One of the two players above him on the leaderboard is Bryson DeChambeau, the 25-year-old American seeking his first victory overseas. DeChambeau shot a 66 and shared the lead with Lucas Herbert of Australia (63) at 12-under 132.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/golf/article/Justin-Rose-builds-3-shot-lead-as-Tiger-Woods-13563102.php.