SAN DIEGO – The last six winners here at the Farmers Insurance Open each shot 67 or better when they got a crack at the easier North Course at Torrey Pines.
If that holds true this year, only six players of the players who teed it up on the North Course Thursday now have a chance to win.
Eleven of the top 14 scores on the leaderboard were shot by players on the North – which played nearly 650 yards shorter than the South on Day 1 – but only Andrew Loupe reached the 6-under mark on a perfect day for scoring with little wind.
The scoring average was 70.897, still significantly lower than the South (73.359), but higher than in recent years because of the narrow fairways, juicy rough and fast, undulating greens.
The average the past two years has been a shade over 70.2.
“It’s not as easy or a pushover like it’s been in the past,” Phil Mickelson said.
The North Course is getting redone after this week’s tournament, with Tom Weiskopf and Co. planning to expand some of the bunkers and make the greens less severe. For now, the course has four reachable par 5s and several straightforward par 4s that reward good driving.
“You know you’ve got to make your number at the North Course,” said Billy Horschel, who shot 67. “The guys that have always won here have always played well on the North Course.”
Yet even Horschel acknowledged that the North is already playing a bit tougher this year. He glanced at the leaderboard midway through his round and didn’t notice many low scores.
“I don’t think there’s that, as you put it, a bonkers round out there,” Mickelson said. “I don’t think there’s that 9- or 10-under par round like there’s been a decade ago. It’s a much more difficult golf course the way it’s been set up in years past. But a good round is still 6 or 7 under.”