How does one back up posting the low round of the day? By following suit. That’s exactly what Sam Ryder accomplished Thursday in Round 2 of the 2023 Farmers Insurance Open as he followed his 8-under 64 on the North Course with a 4-under 68 on the more difficult South Course. Carding the best round among those who made the trek Thursday, Ryder enters the latter stages of the tournament at 12 under with a three-stroke lead on his nearest competitor.
Oddly enough, that’s his playing partner from the first two days, Brendan Steele (-9). The two will play alongside each other again on Friday and hope the good vibes of the first couple rounds continue as the larger chasing pack features some of the biggest names in the game.
Max Homa put a charge of his own on display with a 2-under 70 and sits six strokes behind Ryder. A winner in California earlier this season, the Los Angeles native will attempt to add his fourth title in The Golden State to his résumé.
Two-time tournament winner Jason Day is just one further back at 5 under right alongside Californian Collin Morikawa. The two-time major champion led the field in strokes gained approach on Thursday and has eyes on redemption after squandering a late lead to Jon Rahm in his last start at the Tournament of Champions.
And while Rahm may have stalled on Wednesday, he was in hyperdrive Thursday. Signing for the low round of the day on the North Course, the world No. 3 signed for a 5-under 67, catapulting back into contention at 4 under.
1. Sam Ryder (-12): It is unchartered waters for Ryder, who holds the 36-hole lead for the first time in his PGA Tour career. While some may suggest a letdown over the final 36 holes, his second round on the South Course may tell a different story. Ranking second in strokes gained tee to green, second in strokes gained approach and fifth in strokes gained putting, Ryder will be difficult to catch if able to perform in a somewhat similar manner down the stretch.
“I’m not going to really change my approach a whole lot. It’s just one of those things that just starts to happen. Like I didn’t go out there on Thursday and think I’m going to shoot 8 under today because the weather was good. It just kind of, I hit some good shots and the round started coming to me,” said Ryder. “So, I’m just going to, you know, all the cliche things, kind of try and take it one shot at a time. … I mean, playing late or later in the day on this golf course, it’s tough. Traffic on the greens and it’s not — it’s never easy out there. So, just going to try and take it in stride and see if I can keep myself in a good position and stay aggressive.”
2. Brendan Steele (-9)
3. Tano Goya (-7)
T4. Max Homa, Taylor Montgomery, Brent Grant, Sahith Theegala, Vincent Norrman, Sam Stevens (-6)
T10. Jason Day, Collin Morikawa, Sam Stevens, Ben Griffin, Andrew Novak (-5)
I came away from the second round so impressed by the golf Homa played. On a day that featured winds gusting up to 40 mph, Homa never flinched and appeared as if he would take the South Course by storm early. Carding five birdies on his opening nine, he eventually slowed down but is still right in the thick of this tournament.
The implementation of Aim Point on the greens continues to be beneficial as he ranked 12th in strokes gained putting Thursday. Looking extremely comfortable in all facets of his game, the rise of Homa is continuing in 2023 and may well result in his second win of the season come Saturday.
Can five holes propel Rahm to his third straight?
The world No. 3 was stuck in neutral for most of his second round as the typically accessible North Course proved more difficult due to the gusty conditions. Turning in even par, Rahm began his back nine with four straight pars until he captured lightning in a bottle. Playing his final five holes on Thursday in 5 under, the Spaniard quickly went from outside the cut line to firmly in contention with a round of 5-under 67. Standing at 4 under for the tournament, Rahm sits in a tie for 14th and eight strokes off the pace.
“It was nothing special. I knew that’s probably in any given day the most scorable part of the golf course. Holes 5-9, with or without wind, is where you can take advantage of the course,” said Rahm. “Luckily, I’ve been hitting it really good. There’s no difference between those holes or any other five, four holes you can pick throughout the round. It’s just kind of guessed with the wind right in all of them. I think maybe I was a little more aggressive after that second shot on 6 and got in the mentality of making birdies instead of being a little tentative, which is easy to do when it’s blowing as hard as it was blowing today.”
The first page of the leaderboard is littered with players with ties to California. Homa is a native of Los Angeles and possesses three titles in his home state. Morikawa, his playing partner the first two rounds, is also from L.A. and won his first major championship at TPC Harding Park in the Bay Area. Steele, Montgomery and Theegala all have connections of their own in what has been a welcomed homecoming the first couple days.
2023 Farmers Insurance Open odds, picks
Odds via Caesars Sportsbook
- Sam Ryder: 16/5
- Brendan Steele: 6-1
- Max Homa: 25/4
- Jon Rahm: 7-1
- Taylor Montgomery: 15/2
- Jason Day: 8-1
- Collin Morikawa: 9-1
- Sahith Theegala: 12-1
These are the only players listed below 40-1 on the odds board as bookmakers believe this tournament has turned into an eight-man race. It is hard to disagree with them as Ryder has been dominant thus far, but I would not count out any of those in the immediate chasing pack.
I still believe Homa finds a way to win this tournament as he turned in a somewhat disappointing round of 2-under 70 on Thursday. Totaling six birdies, Homa ranked first in greens in regulation and third in strokes gained tee to green. He burned his fair share of edges, and if those putts are to fall over the next 36 holes, the 32-year-old will have a great chance to usurp Ryder.