Woods whets appetite with two-stroke lead at rainy Torrey Pines

SAN DIEGO _ The rain was really starting to come down on a gloomy Friday at Torrey Pines, so Rickie Fowler offered Tiger Woods a spot under his umbrella as the two waited on the edge of the green at their final hole.

Of course, the ever-stubborn Woods declined. He subsisted with only a white hat and blue sweater while his playing partner pulled out the rain gear.

“Hey, you can only get wet once, right?” Woods asked later, cracking a wide smile. “Once you’re wet, you’re wet. Deal with it.”

Woods more than dealt with it. He thrived in it, firing a 7-under-par 65 amid the conditions to take a two-stroke lead following Friday’s second round of the Farmers Insurance Open in La Jolla.

As he made his turn on the Torrey Pines North Course, Woods caught fire, stroking a birdie on 17, an eagle on 18 and back-to-back birdies on holes 1 and 2. And he bookended his only bogey with birdies to close out his day at 11-under 133, two shots in front of Billy Horschel and three shots in front of six other players.

“I hit good shots all the way,” Woods said.

When leading tournaments after 36 holes, Woods has won more than 75 percent of the time, including two stretches of at least 12 in a row. But he has maintained the lead just twice in his past six such attempts, including a four-stroke lead in the 2009 PGA Championship that he lost to Y.E. Yang.

The only other time Woods led at Torrey Pines after 36 holes, in 2008, he won by eight strokes.

“He missed a few shots out there, but he looks good,” Fowler said of Woods. “I’m just trying to chase him down.”

The fan-favorite Fowler needed a Woods-esque day just to make the cut, and he managed one.

Playing with Woods and Nick Watney, Fowler shot a 7-under 65 after posting a tournament-worst 5-over 77 on Thursday. He still sits nine strokes off Woods’ pace.

Woods will tee off at 9:40 a.m. today alongside a pair of relative unknowns — Horschel and Casey Wittenberg.

Horschel, the No. 287-ranked golfer per the World Golf Rankings, never has been paired with Woods. When the two met in 2009 at the Woods-hosted AT&T National, Horschel was struck by the fact Woods knew his golfing background at the University of Florida.

“It’s going to be a good day no matter what,” Horschel said of today.

The two leaders after the first round, K.J. Choi and Brandt Snedeker, struggled Friday, shooting 1-over 73 and 3-over 75, respectively. But Choi, at 6-under 138, is still in striking distance of Woods, as are tour veterans Charles Howell III (6 under) and Watney (7 under).

For the second consecutive week, San Diego native Phil Mickelson barely made the cut, bogeying on the 18th hole to finish the day at 1-under 71 after an even-par 72 on Thursday.

The cut line was 1 under, with 87 players advancing into weekend play.