Golfers like to pull a few blades of grass and toss them in the air to gauge the wind before hitting a shot.
That would explain any grass floating in the Pacific Ocean during the second round of the Farmers Insurance Open in La Jolla on Jan. 26.
Santa Ana winds that gusted up to 30 mph at Torrey Pines Golf Course created conditions that ranged from concerning to comical.
“It’s one of those days where the weather has the full control of the ball; you just have to hang on,” Brendan Steele said.
First-round co-leader Sam Ryder seemed oblivious to it all, grabbing the lead outright with a 4-under-par 68 on the South Course, a day after opening with an 8-under 64 on the North Course. He is 12 under for the tournament at its halfway point.
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“The thing I’ve been kind of telling myself is to just try and embrace it,” said Ryder, who is holding a lead after 36 holes for the first time in 147 starts on the PGA Tour. “It’s not a position that I’ve been in a lot, you know, so just trying to enjoy it. It’s kind of why we play, so just trying to look around and enjoy the moment.”
A player very familiar with the lead, world no. 3 Jon Rahm, was on the verge of missing the cut before shooting 5 under on his final five holes on the North to finish with a 67.
In the process, Rahm boosted his standing from a tie for 116th after an opening-round 73 to a tie for 14th. He’s eight shots off the lead but still has a chance to win his third consecutive start.
Jon Rahm tees off on the 12th hole on the North Course during the second round of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course on Jan. 26.
(Meg McLaughlin / The San Diego Union-Tribune)
Rahm said he “got in the mentality of making birdies instead of being a little tentative, which is easy to do when it’s blowing as hard as it was blowing today.”
Ryder is three shots up on Steele, his playing partner, who will remain paired with Ryder for the third round on Friday, Jan. 27, after shooting 70.
They will be joined by Argentina’s Tano Goya, who is in third place, five shots behind Ryder, after shooting 67 on the North Course. Goya shared the low round of the day with Rahm.
“I’ve been playing Europe for 11 years,” said Goya, who is making his Farmers debut. “I think that helped me a lot. It’s a lot of rounds where you play with a lot of wind, especially when you play in the islands. That helped me a lot. Also living in Florida, where you can get a lot of wind.”
Players saw the wind in all its blunters redirect their tee shots.
While calculating their approach to the green, they watched the wind whip flagsticks one way one moment and the opposite direction the next. And they arrived to greens cluttered with debris, mainly leaves, which required clearing before lining up putts.
At one point, Tony Finau’s caddy chased down a stray tree branch on the North’s 17th green as Finau lined up a putt.
Then there was Peter Malnati, whose chip shot on the South’s par-3 11th hole was interrupted when a half-dozen trash cans went rolling down the hill.
Malnati stabbed one of the trash cans with his wedge to get it to stop. Then, with his white bucket hat flapping in the wind, he chipped his next shot close enough to the hole to get par.
“We knew today was going to be like a put your helmet on and kind of get ready for a battle,” said Ryder, who saved a couple of pars on his first two holes and overcame one bogey with five birdies.
The top three on the leaderboard were followed by a logjam in fourth place, where six players were tied at 6 under.
Two-time Farmers champion Jason Day was among them before a final-hole bogey on the South Course dropped him to 5 under for the tournament with a 71.
Seventy-three players made the cut at even par.
San Diego’s Xander Schauffele was on the cut line before a birdie on the South’s par-5 18th hole delivered a 71 that made him 1 under for the day and the tournament.
Ryder shrugged off the wind as he breezed through another solid round.
“The conditions are the conditions,” the Florida native said. “I can’t control any of that. All I can control is my attitude and how I prepare.
“Just going to kind of try and take it all in stride and do a lot of the same.” ◆