Last week at the end of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, James Hahn wasn’t even sure that he would be playing the following weekend in Los Angeles at the Northern Trust Open. So well-respected is the event, and the venue – Riviera Country Club – that the field for the tournament was stacked with talent from the upper reaches of the money list, and one of the top rookies on the Tour was relegated to the alternates list. Thanks to another player’s timely withdrawal, however, James Hahn spent Valentine’s Day playing his opening round in the Northern Trust Open, on one of the best-loved courses on the PGA Tour.
A first-round 67, four under par, left Hahn in a three-way tie for fourth place at the end of the first day, but his second round was a different story entirely. As he put it in a message on Twitter Friday evening, describing his 3-over round of 74. “Ball stuck in palm tree, 3 putt from 4 feet, finished in the dark and another made cut. Time to ball hard on the weekend.”
Four players shot 5-under rounds of 66 on Friday to ascend to the top four spots on the leaderboard – Sang-Moon Bae, Fredrik Jacobson, John Rollins, and Bryce Molder. Some of the other players who had scored in the 60s in the opening round slipped back to the 70s, as James Hahn did, sliding down the leaderboard in the process.
As darkness settled over the golf course, Hahn’s 67-74–144 left him safely over the cut line by three strokes (despite a 33-spot slide, to T-37), but some notable names ended up on the wrong side of the line: 2010 U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell; 2009 & 2010 AT&T Pro-Am champion Dustin Johnson; recent UCLA standout Patrick Cantlay – who is struggling to live up to the promise he showed as several PGA Tour appearances as an amateur now that he has turned pro; 3-time major champion Padraig Harrington; and 2005 Masters champion Bubba Watson.
With continued sunshine and temperatures in the low 70s in the forecast for the weekend in the Los Angeles area, the seventy-nine payers in the final field will have pleasant playing conditions through which to contend with Riviera’s kikuyu-grass rough, imaginative bunkering and challenging greens.