Guthrie remains close on Tiger's heels

Posted: Jan. 26, 2013 1:54 am Updated: Feb. 16, 2013 3:15 am


SAN DIEGO -- Tiger Woods made it look easy on a dreary day at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines and wound up in a place he hasn't been in five years.

He had the 36-hole lead by himself at one of his favorite PGA Tour stops.

As for Luke Guthrie? Well, Torrey Pines might quickly become one of his favorite Tour stops, too, if he keeps playing the way he has through 36 holes.

Guthrie, a Quincy native, carded a round of 3-under Friday and is one of seven players who are at 7-under overall.

Guthrie is four shots behind Woods, who shot a 7-under 65 on the North Course. Woods is at 11-under overall and leads Billy Horschel by two strokes.

There are six players at 8-under.

"I feel good right now," Woods said. "I'm leading the tournament."

Guthrie also played the North Course. He played the front nine in 3-under, with birdies on Nos. 1 and 9, both par 5s, and also on No. 2, a par-4.

Guthrie bogeyed Nos. 10 and 11, a pair of par-4s, but managed a score of even par on the back nine with birdies on the par-3 12th and par-5 18th.

Guthrie is in prime position to improve on last week's finish at the Humana Challenge, in which he finished tied for 27th.

"Didn't play my best today, but fought hard for (3-under)," Guthrie posted on his Twitter account after the round. "On to the weekend."

Already a favorite with seven wins as a pro at Torrey Pines, Woods has even more in his favor going into the weekend. He had a 74-0 edge in PGA Tour wins against the next seven players behind him.

Horschel, who had to go back to Q-school to get his card last year, had a 69 on the South Course to get into the final group.

"It's a good day and I'm excited about tomorrow -- I get to play with Tiger," Horschel said. "I found out when I tapped in for par. I realized he was leading and I was in second place. So yeah, looking forward to that."

Woods caught a break in the draw by playing the easier North -- it's about 600 yards shorter -- on a day of light rain, a late breeze and soft conditions. But he kept the ball in play off the tee, and he only got in trouble once. That was on the par-4 eighth hole when he drove into a tough lie in the bunker, and it led to his only bogey.

There's a simple formula for playing the North -- make birdie on the par 5s and pick up a few more on the short par 4s. And that's just what he did.

Woods missed birdie putts inside 8 feet on the opening two holes and was taking baby steps until he took off. It started with a 25-foot birdie putt on the 17th. He followed with the 5-iron that landed just left of the pin on the 18th, a two-putt birdie on the par-5 first hole, and his wedge that took one hop, struck the flag and settled 4 feet away.

It was similar to Thursday on the South Course when he played five-hole stretch in 5 under, only this time, Woods finished strong. His approach to the seventh spun back and ran over the cup to set up a short birdie, and he finished off his routine day with a 5-wood onto the ninth green for another two-putt birdie.

"Drive the ball well here and you're going to probably have four iron shots into the par 5s," Woods said. "You sprinkle that in with probably four or five wedge shots in there, a round of 6- or 7-under par is definitely conceivable."

Brad Fritsch, a rookie from Canada, had a 67 on the South Course to lead the group of six players at 8-under 136. The others were Casey Wittenberg, Steve Marino, Jimmy Walker, Josh Teater and Erik Compton, whom Woods referred to as "remarkable" for being a two-time heart transplant recipient and being on the PGA Tour.

-- The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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