A move down the California coast hasn’t changed a thing for Fredrik Jacobson.
One week after his best finish in more than a year, Jacobson birdied the two toughest holes at Riviera on his way to a 6-under 65 on Friday and a share of the lead with Sang-Moon Bae going into the weekend at the Northern Trust Open.
The Swede did just about everything well, from his tee shots to his iron play, just what it takes to get around the classic design of Riviera. And it helps to get a little luck, such as a 55-foot birdie putt from just off the green at No. 9 that bumped along until disappearing for an unlikely birdie.
“That was probably the biggest bonus of the day,” Jacobson said.
Bae played in the morning and began with four straight birdies, all of them from tap-in range until holing a 25-foot putt on the 13th. He wound up making birdies on half of his holes in his round of 65.
They were at 9-under 133, one shot clear of John Merrick (66) and John Rollins (65).
Still very much in the picture was Luke Donald, who chipped in twice for birdie and worked his short-game magic around the course for a 66. Playing for the first time in two months, Donald didn’t look as if he had much rust. He was two shots behind.
Lee Westwood birdied the last hole for a 68 to join the group at 6-under 136 that includes a pair of major champions, Charl Schwartzel (67) and Webb Simpson (66).
Phil Mickelson was lurking, despite a sloppy double bogey on the 10th hole. Mickelson still managed a 67 and was five shots back.
“I had a little hiccup on the 10th,” Mickelson said. “I was just trying to make 4 and I couldn’t even do that. But 4 under is not a bad round, with the exception of No. 10. That took a great round and turned it into a pretty good round.”
It sets up for a wide-open weekend along Sunset Boulevard.
Twenty players were separated by five shots. That included defending champion Bill Haas (67) and Matt Kuchar, who had a pair of double bogeys in a 73. They were four shots behind. Sergio Garcia bogeyed three of his last five holes for a 73 and was in the group at 4-under 138 that included Mickelson, Ernie Els and Adam Scott.
Warren’s Jason Kokrak survived the cut. At 1-over-par, he’s tied for 58th.
Jacobson has chronic back issues, and he has them under control at the moment.
Since his lone win at the Travelers Championship in the summer of 2011, he has only two top 10s in official PGA Tour events — a tie for eighth in Hartford as the defending champion, and his tie for seventh last week at Pebble Beach.
“I obviously take a lot out of that, just being in contention again,” he said. “I’ve had some good practice sessions before, but to bring it on the course and play under pressure, that’s what it’s about.”