The opening round of the 2012 Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines is in the books, with lots of low scores being posted on the easier North Course on Thursday. Spencer Levin and Kyle Stanley are tied for the lead heading into Day 2, as both players found the North Course ripe for the picking. Spencer Levin posted birdies on holes 1, 7, & 8 on the outward nine, going out in 3-under 33. Levin then birdied 7 of the remaining 9 holes coming in, shooting a stellar 29 on the back nine coming in, equaling a rather tidy 10-under 62 for his opening round. Stanley birdied 4 of his opening 5 holes on Thursday before making the turn at 4-under par, and despite a lone bogey on the par4 11th – would post 6-under 30 on his final 9 holes of the day to tie Levin at 10-under 62.
Spencer Levin talked about what it felt like being “in the zone” after his round Thursday. “I never even know what that means, and I guess when guys do it, they don’t even know they’re doing it. Maybe that’s why I shot that because I just kept trying to hit every shot as good as I could, and I just had a good rhythm going. My mind was pretty clear, and it just worked out good. I played really well on that back nine.” I’ve got a sneaky suspicion that Spencer has an idea of what “in the zone” means now. Stanley reinforced the notion that no matter how good a player is hitting the ball, it all comes down to course conditions and putting to post a low number. “The course is in good shape, the fairways are nice, the greens are soft, but you can just be pretty aggressive with your irons,” Stanley said. “You’ve got to hit solid putts. If you don’t hit solid putts, it will bump up on you.” Stanley’s precision iron play and putting was good enough to “bump” him up to the top of the leaderboard with Levin on Thursday, but the two will face much tougher tests on Friday at the South Course at Torrey Pines.
Bill Haas finds himself only a shot back of both Levin and Stanley and alone in 2nd place heading into Day 2. Despite running into a little trouble on the par3 6th (his 15th hole on the round) that led to a double bogey, Haas would quickly right the ship by posting birdies on 2 of his last 3 holes, shooting 9-under 63 in his opening round. Rod Pampling, John Huh, Vijay Singh, and Josh Teater had solid rounds as well, each shooting 8-under 64′s and sharing 4th place. Five players are in the pack at -7, including Camilo Villegas and Justin Leonard, and Dustin Johnson is a part of the next handful of players at 6-under par heading into Friday.
One of the most disappointed players to walk off of the course Thursday was none other than Phil Mickelson, who commented just a day earlier that he continues to be optimistic about the
state of his game despite the lackluster start last week at the Humana Challenge. But however high Lefty felt his confidence was coming into today’s opening round, his confidence level would bottom out long before his round was even halfway completed. As has been his tendency through the first 2 events this season, Mickelson would once again get off to a dreadful start by bogeying 4 of his opening 8 holes, going out in 3-over 39. The latter half of his day wouldn’t get much better, as he would go on to take bogeys on 12, 14, and 15, leading to a dismal round 5-over 77. Afterward, Mickelson finally started expressing some serious frustrations with his game early on this season. “I went in and had a good weekend, good final few rounds at the Hope. I had some good days of practice and I was ready to play. I don’t know what happened. I just wasn’t able to focus. Obviously, I made some bad swings just in the wrong spots and so forth. But I felt like my game was ready heading in, and I don’t know what to say about the score because it was pathetic.” Mickelson barely made the cut last weekend at the Humana (formerly known as the Hope) and in large part due to the fact that the cut was extended an extra round for that event. But he won’t have that extra round of added breathing room this week, and barring a terrific rebound on Friday, in addition to some considerable help from the top 20 or so players currently on the leaderboard, Mickelson will likely have the weekend to sort out his swing issues on the range back home.