(Reuters) - American Jimmy Walker edged one step closer to a third victory on the 2013-14 PGA Tour when he moved into an tie for the lead after the rain-delayed second round of the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am on Friday.
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 this week, to sit on nine-under after 36 holes.
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.
"I do like playing golf out here, playing Pebble beach is pretty amazing," Walker told reporters. "I seem to play well out here. I don't know what it is but I do like playing out here."
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.
"We are just having a lot of fun," Spieth said of the pro-am atmosphere.
"We are playing a little slower rounds and we are not catching the best weather but everything is laughs and it just a good time.
"It feels a little more relaxed and when things are going wrong there are some the people there to pick you up."
Just one stroke shy of the lead sits fellow American Hunter Mahan after a four-under 68 at Spyglass Hill moved the 31-year-old five-time Tour winner to eight-under.
Mahan carded six birdies and two bogeys to move into the mix.
MICKELSON FIVE BACK
First-round leader Andrew Loupe, a PGA Tour rookie making only his seventh start on the U.S. circuit, was another stroke back at seven under after carding a one-over 73 on the hosting Pebble Beach Golf Links.
Richard Lee (72) sits alone in fifth place at six-under while 11 players are tied sixth at five-under.
Tournament favourite and world number four Phil Mickelson, bidding for a record-equalling fifth victory at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, was five off the pace in a tie for 17th 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 John O'Brien)