J.B. Holmes, the Kentuckian who was one of nine co-leaders after Thursday, finished his second round Friday in the Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club with a respectable two-day total of six-under 136 after a two-under second-round score of 69. He is two shots behind leader Fred Couples, the 51-year-old whose back seems about as sturdy as one made out of popsicle sticks.
And Holmes could easily have been tied with Couples except for an unsightly double-bogey six on his final hole, the par-four, 475-yard 18th. After a drive that went into the right fairway, Holmes' second shot found the left rough. Holmes had to play safe and get back on the fairway with his third shot; a bad chip left him well short and he missed a seven-foot bogey putt.
Right now another first-day co-leader, John Senden, has moved into a tie for second with Holmes, with a trio of birdie threes on the front nine. The Aussie was momentarily alone in second before he bogeyed the par-four eighth hole.
Two-time Northern Trust champion Phil Mickelson is finished for the day tied for 31st at one-under after a one-under round of 70.
Mickelson said his biggest disappointment Friday was on the par-five 11th when he had to settle for a five after making a bad decision on where to drop his ball when it landed on a cart path. "I dropped it on a sprinkler head," Mickelson said."
Though he was seven shots behind Couples, Mickelson said he was optimistic. "I figured something out the last three holes in my setup and I struck it much more solid," he said. "So I think I'll be able to get it dialed in tomorrow."
-- Diane Pucin
Photo: J.B. Holmes hits his second shot on the 12th hole at Riviera Country Club during the second round of the Northern Trust Open on Friday: Credit: Stephen Dunn / Getty Images