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Viktor Hovland grabs Torrey Pines lead amid wild weather in second round

Norway's Viktor Hovland battles the elements during the second round of the Farmers Insurance Open on Friday at Torrey Pines.
(Denis Poroy / San Diego Union-Tribune)

Sunny and 72?

In this instance, it referred to the disposition of 20 players within four strokes of the lead at the Farmers Insurance Open and par for the course(s) at Torrey Pines.

It certainly didn’t refer to the weather for which San Diego is famous.

While the second round began with something forecasters never mentioned — blue skies peeking through clouds — and the rainfall total was less than predicted, Friday wound up being one of the more wild weather days in the tournament’s history.

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By the time the last putt fell shortly before sunset, Farmers participants had seen sunshine and clouds. Breezy wind that later gusted to 30 mph. Intermittent rain. Hail (twice). Oh, and a rainbow.

Norway’s Viktor Hovland is halfway to the pot of gold — a $1.35 million check — awaiting the Farmers winner after a 7-under 65 on the South Course that made him 9-under for the tournament and gave him a one-stroke lead over six others.

“You felt like you had four seasons out there,” first-round co-leader Patrick Reed, one of those tied for second after an even-par 72 on the South. “It was one of those days you expected it to be a grind, you knew coming in it was going to be a grind, and honestly, at the end of the day we probably lucked out because with what the forecast was saying last night, it almost seemed like today was going to be a wash.”

The final groups were interrupted by a late-afternoon, 49-minute weather delay that added to the intrigue.

When play resumed, Hovland and Reed both had a crack at the lead all by themselves while a local Lefty needed a couple birdies to make it to the weekend.

Hovland’s eight birdies on the South included a 2-footer on his final hole that lifted him into the lead by himself. Reed could have joined him had he not bogeyed the 17th hole after the restart.

Tied with Reed one shot back were 2017 Farmers champion Jon Rahm and Adam Scott, who finished second two years ago in his only other Farmers appearance, along with Tony Finau, Ryan Palmer and Lanto Griffin.

Rahm and Finau improved their standing with 5-under 67s on the North, where the low score was an 8-under 64 carded by Robby Shelton.

That effort got Shelton to 7-under for the tournament, two strokes behind the leaders along with Will Gordon and Peter Malnati.

Alex Noren, who shared the first-day lead with Reed, shot 2-over 74 on the South to drop three shots off the lead with two others.

A total of 76 players made the cut, including 26 who were right on the number at 1-under.

The most notable among them was Phil Mickelson, a three-time winner here who is playing his 20th Farmers since his last victory.

Mickelson was among those still playing when the horn sounded at 3:23 p.m. to clear the course.

Moments earlier, Mickelson had bogeyed the South’s par-3 16th hole to go two shots over the cutline. He was literally standing over a 13-foot birdie putt when the horn sounded.

When play resumed, Mickelson stood back over the putt and nailed it.

On the par-5 18th, Mickelson positioned himself 12 feet below the hole for another birdie putt. He sent that ball toward the middle of the cup as well to finish on the number with an even-par 72.

Hovland, a 23-year-old from Oslo, Norway, who played collegiately at Oklahoma State, is one of the tour’s promising young players. He’s already won twice, including last month’s Mayakoba Golf Classic.

“Last couple weeks I’ve been in Oklahoma and it’s been really cold,” Hovland said, “so I’ve had probably three, four layers on practicing and I think that’s helped me for this week.

“It got really cold and, obviously, raining and hail, so being Norwegian, I think that also helps. Yeah, just played really solid and made some putts.”

Starting on No. 10, Hovland made six birdies on his first 10 holes, a stretch marred only by his lone bogey of the day, on the par-4 15th.

“Playing a hard golf course and then playing well, that I think is what gives me the ultimate kind of belief that I played really well today,” Hovland said. “You just can’t really fake it.

“But it’s another day tomorrow and we’ve got two more rounds left, so it’s definitely not going to roll over and give anything to you.”

Saturday’s forecast calls for sunshine, although the temperature is expected to be well under par.

If it’s dry, no one will be complaining if the temperature is in the mid-50s.

“It was a little tough playing, obviously, the South Course compared to the North with those conditions,” Reed said, “but at the same time we had the scorable course (Thursday) with still and kind of calm conditions. It’s one of those days that kind of evened out.

“Now everyone’s out there on the South the next two days and go out and have a shootout.”


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