2012 Northern Trust Open, Round 2 This And That

DJ tees off on No. 9 (click to enlarge)Another gorgeous day brought out the best weekday crowd in years, including a noticeably younger set than in recent years.

Still a ways to go to catch up to the tournament's heyday in the 90s, but the spike is a tribute to the organizer's increased local golf course outreach, several ticket offers including one for UCLA folks, improved social media efforts and I have to think, the tour's new cell phone policy.

If you heard the roar after Phil's hole-out on No. 8, it was a vivid reminder of just how energetic golf viewing can be, especially at an intimate tournament course like Riviera.

As for Friday's second round...

Luke Donald approaches the 12th Friday (click to enlarge)--With all due respect to my colleagues who think fans only come out to watch players hit the ball 300+ yards, I eavesdropped on two different conversations where the fans were seeking out the chance to see the "No. 1 golfer in the world." So yes, Luke Donald is as much or more of a draw for some fans than the bombers. And I'm still not convinced that more than 5% of the crowd could tell the difference between a 285-yard tee shot and a 320-yard drive.

--Phil is the story and it's hard to see that changing the way he's playing, especially considering his recent record at Riviera. But as Mark Lamport-Stokes notes, it'd be terrific to see Jarrod Lyle (-4) continue his good play and contend in a tour event. Here's a little on his background if you don't know his story.

--The absurdly fun-to-watch short par-4 10th featured a back-left hole location and too many wild moments to list, but Doug Ferguson captured the best:

Even with the hole location toward the back right of the green, players tried to drive the green. Rocco Mediate thought his shot was perfect, but it hopped into the front bunker and left him little hope. His next shot flew out of the sand, over the green and banged off a television tower, back into another bunker. He saved par.

"This is the coolest hole," Mediate said. "My favorite place."

10th hole ShotLink scatter chart thru 2 rounds (click to enlarge)--Watching the Rhodes Scholars of the PGA Tour struggle with the 10th over the first two days (4.078 scoring average...only 315 yards!!!) has me convinced that 80% of the field might not break 80 on a course with 18 genuinely strategic holes offering tempting options! Now, at least more guys layed-up short-left today and most of them made par or birdie. Though it was stunning to see the World No. 1 lay-up way too far right. It was not stunning to seem him to make par.

Second round highlights: