Five days ago, Fredrik Jacobson appeared to be edged out of the field for next week's WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship by the slimmest of margins. Now holding a share of the 36-hole lead at the Northern Trust Open, the Swede appears in position to improve his seed significantly.
At 9-under 133, Jacobson shares the lead with South Korea's Sang-Moon Bae after both fired rounds of 6-under 65 Friday at Riviera. Jacobson birdied his first two holes of the day and seven of his first 13 to grab sole possession of the lead before falling back with a bogey on 14. Bae, who held the lead for much of the morning, had a turbulent round that featured nine birdies against three bogeys. With a combined one PGA Tour win between them, they lead by one shot over both John Merrick and John Rollins heading into the weekend.
The leaderboard remains cluttered, though, as several of golf's biggest names are in close pursuit.
Following a 5-under 66, world No. 3 Luke Donald sits alone in fifth place at 7 under, two shots off the pace. Reigning U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson, Charl Schwartzel and Lee Westwood, all currently inside the top 20 of the latest world rankings, comprise the group one shot further back at 6 under.
After sitting atop the leaderboard Thursday, both Matt Kuchar and Sergio Garcia struggled to rounds of 2-over 73. Kuchar remains at 5 under, tied for ninth with, among others, defending champion Bill Haas. Garcia is one shot behind at 4 under, in a group that includes Ernie Els, Adam Scott and Phil Mickelson.
While many elite names can be found near the top of the leaderboard, several others were unable to survive the 36-hole cut. After winning in Kapalua last month, Dustin Johnson has now missed two straight cuts, finishing his two rounds at 3 over along with Graeme McDowell. Masters champion Bubba Watson was unable to overcome an opening 77, and two of the hotter players to start the season, Charles Howell III and Brian Gay, will also sit out the weekend at Riviera.