Ryan Palmer Shoots 62, Leads 2020 Farmers Insurance Open Suddenly Bereft Of Canadian Golfers

Ryan Palmer's Second Round 62 Has Him In The Halfway Lead At The 2020 Farmers Insurance Open - Image Courtesy @RyanPalmerPGA 

By Alfie Lau

And then there were no Canadian golfers left at Torrey Pines for the 2020 Farmers Insurance Open.

A small contingent of Canucks early in the week was whittled to three when Saskatchewan’s Graham DeLaet had to withdraw before his Thursday round.

And after Friday’s rounds concluded, that number was down to zero, as Ontario’s Mackenzie Hughes and Michael Gligic, along with Merritt, BC’s Roger Sloan, all finished at (+1) 145 for the tournament, two strokes off the (-1) cut which sees 79 non-Canadian golfers teeing it up on the South Course.

At least the Canadians are in good company, as two big local favourites, Rickie Fowler and Xander Schauffele, finished at even par to miss the weekend by a stroke, and 2019 Farmers Insurance Open champion Justin Rose, 2019 US Open champion Gary Woodland and perennial fan favourite from Rancho Santa Fe, Phil Mickelson, also missed the weekend by shooting (+1) 145.

Add in 2018 British Open champion Francesco Molinari, who finished at (+2) and you have what media wags here call the most vicious cut of them all. The leader of the tournament, at (-10) 134 is Ryan Palmer, who shot an even par 72 on the harder South Course Thursday, only to catch lightning in a bottle and card a (-10) round of 62 on the North Course.

He leads Brandt Snedeker by two strokes and four others by three, but the biggest story on Friday at Torrey Pines was the 43-year-old golfer from Texas who turned pro in 2000, has four career wins and has cashed almost $27 million in career earnings. Not bad for someone who might be called a journeyman golfer.

“You never see a 62 coming, that’s the thing,” said Palmer. “You never know when you’re going to shoot those low ones like that. I know I’m capable of doing it on certain golf courses, I’ve done it numerous times. I knew if I got the putter rolling, I was going to have a good day. Did a little extra before I teed off and it showed.”

It sure did, as Palmer made 11 birdies in his first 17 holes and had the golf world on 59 watch before he made bogey on his last to “just” shoot a round of 62. Pinpoint drives and irons were the secret to Palmer’s round, as he could barely remember having to make any long putts for birdie. “They were all within 20 feet, everything I made,” said Palmer. “I think the biggest putt was probably the putt on 18, I made a six-footer for bogey. . . I hit it pretty close all day inside of 18 feet.”

Only the most devoted golf fans would have known of Palmer’s exploits on the North Course because most of the fans were following the 10:40 group of Collin Morikawa, Jon Rahm and Tiger Woods. All three played consistent, if not infuriating golf, with Rahm and Morikawa at (-5) 139 and Woods one shot back at (-4) 140.

Morikawa who might be considered an almost-Canadian because he is from La Canada, California, never seemed fazed to be playing with TaylorMade superstars Woods and Rahm, while Rahm showed some of his fiery Spanish temper with every missed putt or wayward drive. Several spiked tees on tee boxes and shrugged shoulders on putts missed were Rahm’s MO on a day where he felt he probably should have been three or four strokes better.

Woods followed his opening (-3) round of 69 with a (-1) round of 71, but all the golf world will be talking about is his first hole, where he hit a perfect drive and then a great approach to 25 feet. He made a nice lag putt to two-and-half feet and that’s when the fun began.

He powered his par putt long, leaving five-and-a-half feet for bogey before he made the 14-inch tap-in for double and an ignominious four-putt. “I tried to ram it in the hole and it bounced, and hit obviously a terrible third putt, pulled it,” said Woods. “The second putt, it’s just what happens on poa. I tried to take the break out and it just bounced.”

From then on, it was the classic grinding Tiger, who still managed to shoot an under-par round on the South Course when his driver left him at some crucial moments. Four birdies in five holes from the sixth through tenth holes had Woods back on track, but hitting his drive into a bunker on 12, followed by an approach past the green, an indifferent chip and two putts later, a bogey that killed all of Woods’ momentum.

He would also hit a wayward drive left on the 17th, leading to his last bogey of the day, but he salvaged something for the weekend by making birdie on the last. “I am excited about the way overall that I felt like I’m driving the golf ball,” said Woods. “My short game’s been really sharp, just a matter of getting the ball in the right spots to make some more putts.”

And as if to warn the rest of the field that he has won here seven times, in all different manners, he reminisced about his weekend finish in 1999. “Shot 62-65 on the weekend,” Woods said matter of factly, while noting the South Course is much different 21 years later. Woods will have to do it early Saturday, as he is the third group off the first tee, at 7:55 a.m. alongside Jacksonville Beach, FLA natives Tyler McCumber and Chris Baker.

One group behind them, starting at 8:05 a.m. is a marquee group of Tony Finau, Rory McIlroy and Hideki Matsuyama. McIlroy had it going on his front nine on the South Course before bogeys at 12, 15 and 18 brought him back to the field. The final group of the day features Palmer, Snedeker and JB Holmes, who tee off at 9:45 a.m.

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