PACIFIC PALISADES, California (Reuters) - Already a winner on the 2014-15 PGA Tour, Ryan Moore put himself in good position to claim another title by seizing an early one-shot lead in the Northern Trust Open second round on Friday.
Three strokes off the pace overnight, the 32-year-old American fired a three-under-par 68 on a firm and fast-running Riviera Country Club layout where most players were struggling to get the ball close with their approach shots.
Moore mixed four birdies with a sole bogey in mainly sunny conditions to post a five-under total of 137, leaving him one ahead of burly Argentine Angel Cabrera, a double major champion who also carded a 68.
Masters champion Bubba Watson, who won last year’s Northern Trust Open after shooting bogey-free 64s in the last two rounds, was a further stroke back at three under after returning a 69.
“It was a great, solid round of golf,” the bearded Moore, a four-times winner on the PGA Tour, told reporters after missing a four-foot par putt to bogey his final hole.
“It’s just tough to have birdie chances that are reasonable on this golf course right now. The greens are so firm and so bouncy. I hit a handful of what I would say are as good of shots as I could possibly hit and I ended up with 45-footers.
“You just know you’ve got to take advantage of them, if you do get one around the hole. You’ve got to make it and I’ve been able to do that,” said Moore, who won the fourth event on the 2014-15 PGA Tour, the CIMB Classic in Malaysia in November.
Watson drained a 42-foot eagle putt at the par-five first and a 30-footer for birdie at the par-four second, his 11th hole of the day, but otherwise suffered by leaving himself too far away from the cup for good scoring opportunities.
“I hit the ball a little bit better, but you can’t get the ball close here — well I can’t,” rued the left-hander. “I haven’t been able to get the ball as close as I want. I made two long putts, which made me look like I played really good today.”
PGA Tour veterans Vijay Singh of Fiji and South African Retief Goosen, in a six-way tie for the lead overnight after opening with 66s, were among the late starters on Friday.
Editing by Frank Pingue