Golf

Published: Saturday February 8, 2014 MYT 8:42:01 AM
Updated: Saturday February 8, 2014 MYT 8:42:27 AM

Walker in early tie for lead at rain-hit Pebble Beach

Jimmy Walker tees off on the third hole during the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open golf tournament at Torrey Pines Municipal Golf Course. Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmy Walker tees off on the third hole during the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open golf tournament at Torrey Pines Municipal Golf Course. Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) - American Jimmy Walker edged one step closer to a third victory on the 2013-14 PGA Tour when he moved into an early tie for the lead in Friday's rain-delayed second round of the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

FedExCup points leader Walker, who won the season-opening Frys.com Open in October and last month's Sony Open in Hawaii fired a three-under-par 69 at Spyglass Hill, one of three venues being used for this week's event.

Walker clearly relishes playing on the picturesque Monterey Peninsula, having recorded top-10 finishes in each of the last three years at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

The 34-year-old collected three birdies in a bogey-free display in mainly overcast, breezy conditions to finish level with fellow American Jordan Spieth, who returned a six-birdie 67 at Monterey Peninsula.

Spieth, the 2013 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year who clinched his maiden title at the John Deere Classic in July, birdied his final hole, the par-three ninth, to join Walker at the top.

First-round leader Andrew Loupe, a PGA Tour rookie making only his seventh start on the U.S. circuit, was a further two strokes back at seven under after carding a one-over 73 on the hosting Pebble Beach Golf Links.

Tournament favourite and world number four Phil Mickelson, bidding this week for a record-equalling fifth victory at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, was five off the pace after signing for a roller-coaster 73.

The American left-hander, wearing a glove on each hand to cope with increasingly chilly conditions on the Pebble Beach Golf Links, mixed a double-bogey at the second with four birdies and three bogeys to finish at four under.

Loupe's overnight lead of two shots held up when the rain-delayed first round was completed earlier on Friday.

The 25-year-old Loupe had set the pace with a sizzling 63 at Monterey Peninsula on Thursday but 40 players were yet to finish when play ended for the day in fading light.

Of those, Mickelson was three strokes off the pace with three holes remaining but he was unable to get any closer to Loupe as he finished up with three successive pars on Friday morning to card a 66.

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Gene Cherry)

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