D.A. Points saved his best golf for the traditionally tougher course Friday at Torrey Pines and wound up in a share of the lead with Tampa's Ryuji Imada in the Farmers Insurance Open.
Points avoided a shaky start with a series of good par saves, then finished strong with an eagle and a birdie in the final four holes on the South Course for a 7-under 65. Imada also played the South, which hosted the U.S. Open in 2008, and shot 68.
Imada, who was runner-up to Tiger Woods by eight shots in 2008 at the PGA Tour event, has yet to make a bogey.
They were at 11-under 133, giving them a head start going into the weekend, when it's far easier to keep track of who's doing well.
Torrey Pines has two of the most distinct courses on the PGA Tour, with the South playing 2 1/2 shots easier than the North. Points apparently didn't get the memo.
"Funny enough, I've played this course a lot more than I've played the other one, and I feel pretty comfortable out here," he said.
Points and Imada were two strokes ahead of Matt Every, who had a 70 on the South, and Michael Sim of Australia, who had a tournament-best 62 on the North Course and finished with an eagle.
Robert Allenby, who opened with a 67 on what he called the "real course" - the South - didn't fare quite as well on the North as he struggled on the bumpy greens. He still had a 69 and was three shots back going into the weekend.
Phil Mickelson didn't go as low as he wanted, but he also finished with a flourish for a 67 that left him only four shots behind in his first tournament of the year. Mickelson spent most of his time after the round answering questions about the old Ping wedge in his bag with square grooves, and Scott McCarron accusing him of "cheating" for using it.
"I think he's saying the rule is a terrible rule," Mickelson said.
More important to Mickelson is having a chance on a hometown course that has befuddled him since the South Course was revamped to accommodate a U.S. Open. Mickelson is a three-time winner at Torrey Pines, but not since 2001. A victory this week would be his third in four starts, something he has never done in his career.
The final two rounds are held on the South Course, and some believe the tournament doesn't really start until today.
Twenty players were separated by five shots going into the weekend on a course that can be punishing for short hitters who aren't in the fairway.