Planet Golf — 26 January 2024 by GW staff and news services
Eagle on 18 boosts Jaeger into lead

SAN DIEGO — Stephan Jaeger of Germany made a 35-foot eagle putt on his final hole for an 8-under 64 and a one-shot lead over Nicolai Hojgaard of Denmark after the second round of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines on Thursday.

Jaeger was at 12 under halfway through the tournament on the blufftop layout overlooking the Pacific Ocean. He started on the back nine of the easier North Course and leapfrogged Hojgaard with his eagle on the par-5 ninth to sit atop a crowded leaderboard.

“Finishing like that, yeah, it was exciting,” said Jaeger, who birdied five of his first eight holes and had just one bogey.

He said he hit a good drive into the wind on his closing hole and then tugged his approach shot a bit.

“I wanted it to kind of go middle of the green and I went right at it. It ended up landing just short of the pin and scooting kind of back fringe,” he said. “Had a little downhill right-to-lefter about 35 feet and it ended up curling in. It was awesome to see.”

Jaeger shot a 68 on the South Course on Wednesday. He said his strong finish Thursday doesn’t give him much momentum because the final two rounds are on the South Course.

“But it’s always nice to make eagles and birdies,” said the 32-year-old Jaeger, who has been on tour since 2018 and is still looking for his first win. “Nobody can take those away from you. I’m pumped to play the South Course two more days. I love this place. This is probably one of my favorite tournaments every year.”

Hojgaard shot a bogey-free 66 on the North Course and was at 11 under. Thomas Detry of Belgium and Matthieu Pavon of France were 10 under after playing the South Course. Pavon played a consistent round of 65 with just one bogey while Detry had two bogeys in his final four holes for a 68.

Hojgaard, 22, is getting his first look at Torrey Pines after arriving Monday from Dubai. He shot a 67 on the South Course in the first round. His practice round Tuesday consisted of playing the back nine on the North Course.

“I feel like it’s been two solid days,” he said. “Played some really good golf, scrambled pretty well when I’ve been out of position and finished off with a nice par today. Feel like the driving has been quite solid. I still missed a few fairways on the par 5s, which are the scoring holes, but overall very pleased with the game.”

Tony Finau (66, North Course) and Michael Kim (68, South) were 9 under. Aaron Rei (70), Emiliano Grillo (69) and Joseph Bramlett (66) were all at 8 under after playing the South Course.

San Diegan Xander Schauffele, ranked No. 5 in the world, was in a group of 13 at 7 under after a 68 on the North Course.

The tournament wraps up Saturday to avoid being shown opposite the NFL conference championship games.

First-round leader Kevin Yu fell off the pace after a 74 on the South Course. World No. 6 Patrick Cantlay also had a rough day on the South Course with a 73. Both are at 6 under.

Defending champion Max Homa, ranked No. 7 in the world, shot a 70 on the North Course and was at 4 under. Hideki Matsuyama shot his first PGA Tour hole-in-one on the par-3 eighth on the South Course during his round of 71.

First Round

SAN DIEGO — Kevin Yu of Taiwan shot a bogey-free, 8-under 64 on the North Course at Torrey Pines to take a one-shot lead over Patrick Cantlay and Ryo Hisatsune in the opening round of the Farmers Insurance Open on Wednesday.

The eight lowest scores came on the North Course, which generally plays a few strokes easier than the South Course on the municipal layouts on a bluff high above the Pacific Ocean. Players have a round on each course before the cut. The final two rounds will be played on the South Course.

Cantlay, ranked No. 6 in the world, had just one bogey and fared better than No. 5 Xander Schauffele and defending champion and seventh-ranked Max Homa, both of whom played the South Course. Schauffele, a local who played at San Diego State, shot a 3-under 69 while Homa had all three of his bogeys in the first seven holes in carding a 2-under 70.

The best score on the South Course was a 5-under 67 by Nicolai Hojgaard of Denmark, who arrived Monday from Dubai and was able to play only nine holes on the North Course on Tuesday. The Farmers ends Saturday to avoid being shown opposite the NFL conference championship games.

Yu, a 25-year-old who played at Arizona State, is seeking his first PGA Tour win. He tied for third at The American Express last week, two shots behind Kevin Dunlap, the first amateur to win on the PGA Tour in 33 years.

“I fell short last week; bogeyed the last hole on Sunday. But yeah, I’ve been playing very good and just keep building momentum,” Yu said. “If I hit a lot of fairways, I can have a lot of chances to get on the green and try to make some putts.”

Cantlay avoided the roughs that were soaked during a storm that overwhelmed parts of the city Monday.

Cantlay, who grew up in Orange County and played at UCLA, hasn’t played the Farmers since 2019 although he did play in the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in 2021.

“Obviously, different conditions this week,” Cantlay said. “It will be a lot more wet this week. The scores should be quite a bit lower. But you play the golf course from the fairway and you can have a bunch of chances around here.”

He said the key to his round was playing well on the three par 5s, although he three-putted No. 17 for par, which he called “kind of a bummer.” His only bogey was on the par-3 No. 3.

“I hit the ball very solid, played from the fairway a lot, which really gave me a lot of opportunities to make birdie today,” he said. “When the rough is as wet as it is, it makes it more difficult. It’s harder to get the golf ball to go because the water gets in the way. But the rough is classically long here. I don’t think I’ve played this golf course ever really when the rough’s short.

“There’s definitely a penalty for missing the fairway and, like I said, today I played a lot from the fairway so I hope to keep that up.”

Hisatsune, a 21-year-old from Japan who’s also seeking his first PGA Tour win, had just one bogey.

Hideki Matsuyama, Shane Lowry, Thomas Detry, Aaron Rai and Alejandro Tosti each shot 66.

Hojgaard, who tied for seventh in Dubai, had just one bogey, on the par-4 fourth.

“I played really well out there today,” he said. “I felt like I was doing a lot of good stuff, a lot of good work. I wish I was a few more shots better. I felt like I gave myself all the chances on the back nine as well. You can’t complain when you shoot a 67 on the South Course.”

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